SAN DIEGO, March 7, 2015 – There was a lot to like about NBC’s inaugural broadcast of “Premier Boxing Champions” Saturday night, and their names were Keth Thurman and Robert Guerrero.
Thurman (25-0-1, 21 KOs) and Guerrero (32-3-1, 8 KOs) put on good show for boxing fans new and old, with Thurman winning a lopsided unanimous decision to remain undefeated.
Reading the judges’ scorecards and the punch stats, you wouldn’t be out of line thinking it was a fairly easy victory for Thurman. What doesn’t show up in the numbers is the heart and the toughness of Robert Guerrero, a Mexican Style warrior who said he would prefer to go out on his back asleep than not continue.
Thurman controlled the fight throughout and this is what the scorecards reflect. He put Guerrero on the canvas in the last minute of the ninth round, and it seemed doubtful Guerrero would finish the fight. Referee Kenny Bayliss gave Guerrero every possible chance to finish the round, as Guerrero had never been stopped.
Guerrero came out for the 10th round and used his strongest weapon, his tremendous heart. The final three rounds will keep first time fans coming back for more. Guerrero landed his best shots on Thurman with sheer will. Thurman fired back within limits, deciding finally that he had the fight in the bag and didn’t need to risk letting Guerrero score a comeback.
“I’m a Mexican-American, I come with corazon,” Guerrero told Kenny Rice after the fight. I didn’t win the fight but I know I won the hearts of America.” Thurman called Guerrero “a tremendous warrior,” but said he knew he was hurting Guerrero throughout the fight. Who would like a rematch? Count me in, we could do a lot worse.
The openng bout on the broadcast, for example.It was not the best way for NBC to make a first impression with casual fight fans. Adrien “The Problem” Broner” (21-1, 22 KOs) won a lopsided unanimous decision over John Molina Jr. (27-6, 22 KOs) in a bout lacking significant action or fire.
Broner showed his hand speed, was active enough and connected at a far great rate than Molina to win the fight. It didn’t take much. Molina gave round after round away as he waited for an opportunity to land one big home run knockout. Trainer Joe Goossen implored Molina over and over between rounds to fight, but Molina couldn’t get going. It was hard to believe it was the same John Molina Jr. who took part in the 2014 Fight of the Year against Lucas Matthyse in a barnburner last April. Broner told NBC’s Kenny Rice afte the bout, “I’m still beautiful at the end of the fight. He wanted me to sit there and bang it out with him, but why would I do that when God gave me so many gifts?”
The crowd was solidly behind Molina and cheered every effort, what little there was. Broner kept his customary clowning and antics down to a minimum. Network execs must have warned him not to act up on NBC. Still, in the post-fight interview with NBC’s Kenny Ricehe started up his infamous “can” comments: “Like I said before, anyone can get it: Africans, Mexicans…” and NBC quickly cut the interview.
Three-time world champion Abner Mares (29-1, 15 KOs) ended up fighting a walk-off bout on NBCSN after the NBC braodcast, taking a unanimous decision against Arturo Reyes (18-5, 5 KOs) as expected, though without a lot of flash or firepower. Mares said after the fight he woke up with the flu. “I didn’t like my perforamnce. I don’t want to blame anyone, but today I woke up under the weather, a little sick and not feeling good.” Mares said he finished thanks to a strong training camp.
Let’s give NBC an A for effort, a B for boxing action, a C for the introductions with the lack of a ring walk, and mixed reviews for the broadcast crew. There is a lot to like with room for improvement. My advice: Give Laila Ali all the post-fight interviews and more airtime in general. For the male fans, give the guys their ring girls; they were MIA tonight. I’ve got your back, boys.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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