SAN DIEGO, April 4, 2015 – The CBS network has a long, rich history televising boxing. It aired “Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts” starting in 1948, not long after the network was established. CBS brought boxing back to its airwaves after it lost its NFL contact to Fox in 1994, and it continued to air boxing through 1998. But it hasn’t covered boxing regularly since then.
Premier Boxing Champions and its impresario Al Haymon hope to change this, starting on Saturday with the first PBC event on CBS, featuring light heavyweight Adonis “Superman” Stevenson of Canada (25-1, 21 KO) versus Sakio “The Scorpion” Bika of Australia (32-6-3, 21 KO) from Quebec City at 3 p.m. ET. Stevenson puts his WBC title on the line.
Fans hoped to see Stevenson fighting the man who holds the remaining three title belts in this weight division, Sergey Kovalev. Stevenson, the 2013 Fighter of the Year, says he’s willing. His actions have said otherwise, and it’s earned him criticism for ducking Kovalev. With a big win Saturday, perhaps Stevenson will have the courage to suck it up and face the formidable Russian.
In the meantime, what looks like a lopsided fight on paper may be more challenging than expected. Sakio Bike has six losses, but all were competitive decisions against tough opponents, including Joe Calzaghe, Lucien Bute, Andre Ward and Anthony Dirrell. Bika has boxed more than double the number of professional rounds of Stevenson (250 to 110) despite being the younger man by five years. It’s the sort of wear and tear that builds up.
Bika’s last fight against Dirrell in August at the StubHub Center in Carson on the Kell Brook vs. Shawn Porter undercard was a messy, frustrating affair. Bika isn’t afraid to fight dirty if he can get away with it. He had a point deducted for a low blow to Dirrell, as he had in his previous fight, also against Dirrell. Look for him to try and manhandle Stevenson to prevent him from throwing a knockout punch and to erase Stevenson’s five-inch reach advantage.
Stevenson will need to keep Bika off him and prevent him from landing anything substantial. Stevenson was knocked down for only the second time in his career in his last fight against Polish-born Andrej Fonfara. Fonfara caught Stevenson in the middle of the ninth round after Stevenson had him down twice earlier in the fight. If Bika can show as much heart as Fonfara did, he’ll give himself a chance.
CBS will air only the main event, but keep an eye on the undercard. Unbeaten light heavyweight Artur Beterbiev (7-0, 6 KOs) will face former cruiserweight champion Gabriel Campillo (25-6-1, 12 KOs). The ambitious Russian would like to get in line ahead of Stevenson to face his countryman Kovalev. Campillo is in the “professional opponent” category but not anyone to be overlooked. First things first, Artur. You need to look at guys like Isaac Chilemba or Juergen Braehmer first.
It’s a shame boxing won’t get more airtime in its CBS debut. The network has assembled a first-rate announcing team. Thirty-year NFL and longtime NBA and college basketball veteran Kevin Harlan will handle the play-by-play. Harlan worked the Mike Tyson vs. Buster Mathis Jr. bout for Fox in 1995 and has also called several championship events on radio. Showtime color analyst Paulie Malignaggi will join him along with respected trainer Virgil Hunter, making his broadcast analyst debut. Give PBC credit for putting together exceptional talent for its broadcasts.
PBC on CBS, Stevenson vs. Bika live from the Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City airs Saturday at 3 p.m. ET/12 noon. PT.
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. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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