Showtime is filling a void with classics, beginning Friday
They weren’t that hard to find. Not for the Showtime folks. The cable network giant has provided a ton of amazing fights throughout its history, and with the COVID-19 pandemic throwing a stake through the heart of live sports events, Showtime thought it would pick out a handful of choice fights that may take your mind off the current situation.
Over the next three Fridays in April, Showtime will provide boxing fans with three Fight of Year replays, starting this Friday night (10 p.m. ET/PT) with arguably the most exciting fight of this century, Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo I – the 2005 consensus Fight of the Year by The Ring and BWAA, which took place on May 7, 2005.
“Clearly, there are some unmet needs for the boxing fans,” said Stephen Espinoza, the Showtime president of sports and event programming. “They’re going nuts without new content. The obvious thought for us, even though we have a 35-year library, is that we dedicate a night to it. Having a dedicated time slot on Friday nights on Showtime demonstrates how important the sport is and how important the sport is to the network.
“We’re not just putting on random fights. We’re putting on fights in a specific time slot that people can come to know and schedule to program their DVRs. We have a library that includes Tyson, Chavez, and Mayweather and Holyfield, and those jump out. We’ll be showing those fights. But what I think is the strength of these fights are the ones you don’t see replays of all of the time.”
The April slate of Showtime Boxing Classics will be highlighted by three Fight of the Year winners, which include some of the most heart-pounding and unforgettable fights in boxing history.
April 10: Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo I & II
April 17: Paulie Ayala vs. Johnny Tapia I & II
April 24: Lucas Matthysse vs. John Molina, Mickey Bey vs. John Molina
“We’re featuring in April every Fight of the Year,” Espinoza said. “Then, when we looked into those fights, fights like Lucas Matthysse and John Molina, for example, you then find a great fight Mickey Bey against Molina. Once we spoke about Molina, the Mickey Bey came up.
“It wasn’t the rock’em-sock’em robots war that Matthysse-Molina was, but the last round is certainly one of the most epic last rounds that you’ll see. We’ll give our fans a share of the big names, too, but there is a lot in our catalog that’s been underappreciated and needs to be seen. That’s where we wanted to focus our programming.”
During each Showtime Boxing Classics telecast, Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell, the network’s versatile combat sports analysts, will host a live companion episode of their digital talk show Morning Kombat on the Morning Kombat YouTube Channel. Thomas and Campbell will watch the Showtime replay and react to the fights in real time, feature special guest interviews with principal participants from the bouts (fighters, trainers, referees and promoters) and take questions from fans while the bouts replay on the network.
“The greatest fight I’ve ever covered,” said Al Bernstein, the International Boxing Hall of Fame analyst. In a career that spans more than 40 years, including calling Hagler-Hearns, Bowe-Holyfield I and the Vazquez-Marquez trilogy, Bernstein says the first Corrales-Castillo war was the best. “This was Hagler-Hearns times three because it lasted so much longer. It was fought at such an extraordinary skill level and to me that is what made it so special.”
Espinoza said he’s interested in showing Evander Holyfield-Mike Tyson I, and the infamous Holyfield-Tyson II, “The Bite Fight.” Espinoza also stated that the fans will have a say, through social media, what fights are shown in the coming months.
“Why not let the fans vote on what they want to see,” he said.
Friday, April 10:
Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo I – 2005 Consensus Fight of the Year (also featuring the Round of the Year and later named Fight of the Decade)
Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo II
Friday, April 17:
Paulie Ayala vs. Johnny Tapia I – 1999 Ring Magazine Fight of the Year (Ayala earned Fighter of the Year honors)
Paulie Ayala vs. Johnny Tapia II
Friday, April 24:
Lucas Matthysse vs. John Molina – 2014 Consensus Fight of the Year
Mickey Bey vs. John Molina
The fights scheduled to air in April include:
Corrales-Castillo I (May 7, 2005, Corrales TKO 10) – After nine intense, back-and-forth rounds in a WBC and WBO lightweight unification bout, Corrales accomplishes the unthinkable, miraculously regrouping from two knockdowns in the 10th to stop Castillo and etch his name in boxing lore. After managing to beat the count (and losing a point for spitting the mouthpiece), Corrales got Castillo on the ropes and connected with a huge right hand. Corrales continued to unload on a defenseless Castillo, forcing referee Tony Weeks to halt the blazing action.
Corrales-Castillo II (October 8, 2005, Castillo KO 4) – Castillo, who did not make the 135-pound weight limit, making the contest a non-title bout, avenges an earlier loss to the WBC and WBO Lightweight World Champion Corrales with a one-punch, fourth-round knockout. Castillo consistently outworks Corrales and lands the harder punches in a more one-sided bout than their first affair. Castillo staggers his opponent with a right hand in the third round that sends him stumbling backward across the ring. He then scores a finishing knockdown with a left hook in the fourth that puts Corrales flat on his back.
Ayala-Tapia I (June 26, 1999, Ayala W 12) – In some of the fiercest two-way action in the history of Las Vegas boxing, southpaw Ayala hands Tapia his first professional loss in 49 fights and captures the WBA Bantamweight Title by the scores of 115-114 and 116-113 twice. As the boxers were being announced, Tapia walked across the ring and shoved Ayala, causing a momentary skirmish.
Ayala-Tapia II (October 7, 2000, Ayala W 12) – In a rematch of 1999’s Fight of the Year, the action between the heated rivals does not disappoint. However, the outcome is the same as their first meeting, with Ayala winning via controversial unanimous decision. Mayhem ensues as the decision is announced and an incensed Tapia is ushered from the ring by security.
Matthysse-Molina (April 26, 2014, Matthysse KO 11) – Fighting in the night’s co-main event, Matthysse steals the show with a spectacular 11th-round knockout over Molina in 2014’s Fight of the Year. The Argentine, then ranked No. 1 in the world at 140 pounds, is hurt in the first and dropped in the second and fifth rounds. But Matthysse comes back with knockdowns in the eighth, 10th and 11th rounds to turn back a determined bid by Molina.
Bey-Molina (July 19, 2013, Molina KO 10) – In one of ShoBox: The New Generation’s most unforgettable rounds, Molina comes back from the brink of certain defeat to dramatically knockout then-unbeaten Mickey Bey. Heading into the 10th and final round, Molina was trailing on the three judges’ scorecards by 90-81, 89-82 and 88-83.