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Friday, December 08, 2017

ESPN, Vasyl Lomachenko, and Guillermo Rigondeaux 

by Eddie Goldman

ESPN has put out a press release propagandizing that Saturday's fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux is "the biggest boxing match of the year". This is pretty funny, since it is being held in Madison Square Garden's Theater, which is not even the biggest room in that building, and in whose main arena Miguel Cotto dropped his retirement fight to Sadam Ali just last week.

And, of course, it ignores (and insults) what was really the biggest fight of the year, the April 29 heavyweight classic between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 people in London's Wembley Stadium, which broke U.K. pay-per-view records, and was viewed by tens of millions of people around the world.

As for TV, being the biggest fight on U.S. TV this year (since for most American hacks and flacks only America is great for sports and matters) is a possibility, but will be difficult to achieve. So far that honor belongs to the fight between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia on CBS March 4, which peaked at 5.1 million viewers and averaged 3.1 million viewers. So we shall know the ratings for Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux sometime shortly after the show airs.

What is significant, behind all the cliches, hype, and rubbish, is that for this fight at least, ESPN is providing much support on its various networks and online. The press conference was shown on ESPN3, the weigh-ins will be televised on ESPN2, and Lomachenko, the Top Rank fighter being showcased ahead of Rigondeaux, was on SportsCenter. They also have several supporting preview articles, although expert analysis of this fight is far better in many non-ESPN places.

For some unannounced reason, Teddy Atlas will not be this fight's live blabbermouth. Those positions are being filled by Mark Kriegel and Stephen A. Smith, so expect the commentary to be best experienced with the volume muted.

For U.K. viewers, this fight is on BoxNation, which might provide more professional commentary and analysis.

My preview, "Will Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux Be Arum's Revenge?" can be seen here.

The ESPN press release mentioned above can be seen here.

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