Dan Rafael reports in this week's notebook at ESPN.com that two fights in December could be coming to American TV.
One was expected. The December 12 WBC heavyweight title fight between Vitali Klitschko and Kevin Johnson looks like it's headed to HBO, which will air it on same-day tape alongside the two fights live from Chicago the network has that night. Klitschko-Johnson, Juan Diaz-Paulie Malignaggi II and Victor Ortiz-Antonio Diaz is a pretty nice little triple-header, wouldn't you say?
It's no surprise because as has been reported and touted frequently, the September 26 fight between Klitschko and Cristobal Arreola did HBO's highest ratings of the year. They were no doubt helped by the Mayweather-Marquez replay leading them in, but they also retained those viewers, which is a big deal.
On December 11, Jean Pascal and Adrian Diaconu will rematch for the light heavyweight title that Pascal won from Diaconu this summer. It was a hell of a good fight, picked up by the Versus Network, who are likely spending any budget they have left on their Hopkins-Ornelas and Green-Jones double-header on December 2.
Instead of Versus getting the rematch or one of the two tapped major networks grabbing it, ESPN looks like they're going to step in and air the bout on ESPN Classic and ESPN360.com. ESPN has nabbed a few fights for Classic in the recent past, including Vitali Klitschko-Juan Carlos Gomez, Wladimir Klitschko-Ruslan Chagaev and O'Neil Bell-Tomasz Adamek. Hopefully this trend keeps up. There are a lot of good fights out there that won't cost the network an arm and a leg to gain U.S. rights for, and there are plenty of boxing fans that will tune in.