NBC Sports Fight Night: What Worked and What Didn't in the Series Premiere

What Worked

* The commentary was very strong throughout the night. The most incredible thing was how Kenny Rice, Freddie Roach, and BJ Flores managed to continue sounding like they were interested in the fight that was going on in front of them, which they were being paid to call. Unlike the nWo-era WCW-esque commentary of HBO, where Tony Schiavone Jim Lampley and Bobby Heenan Larry Merchant keep blathering on about Sting Manny Pacquiao while there are interesting fights going on that they're almost vindictively making seem worse than they are, the NBC Sports team realizes that a commentary team can make a good fight great, a mediocre fight good, and a bad fight watchable. Roach is a valuable, legitimate expert analyst, and whatever you do or don't think of Flores the fighter, he's a strong color commentator who takes a backseat to Roach, but spices up the commentary when he thinks it needs spicing. Rice is simply a veteran, a professional, and a good blow-by-blow man. This is already one of the best commentary teams in boxing. I know I'm a commentary curmudgeon, but I'll take an understated team like this one over the phony bluster of other teams any day.

* The fights went over well, or at least two of three did. Rosado vs Soto Karass wasn't the barnburner it could have been, but Rosado took advantage of Soto Karass in this one and put on a dominant showing. And the makeshift main event, with Bryant Jennings topping Maurice Byarm, went as well as one could have reasonably expected.

* The presentation was excellent. There is always a worry that a boxing show will look bush league. It's not the same situation, but take Top Rank. Their old Versus show and their current Fox Sports show look like a cheap knockoff boxing show, which is absolutely ridiculous for the world's biggest boxing promoter. Solo Boxeo Tecate looks and feels second-rate, too. And ESPN lagged behind the curve badly until last year, and they still have headshots of fighters from what must be a decade ago for guys like Pacquiao or Carl Froch. NBC Sports did a marvelous job putting their weight behind the production of this show. They made it look like a major sport, like a real event, like something you might stop and watch. And they did that from the ECW Arena (Asylum Arena, Viking Bingo Hall) in Philadelphia, which is not exactly a glamorous, modern venue. The show was every bit as slick as anything on HBO, and frankly looked better than Showtime.

* On topic of the venue, this was a perfect choice. It's a well-known, intimate venue that can attract a real fight crowd. Main Events and Kathy Duva are maybe the last even semi-major promoter who seem to care about putting fights where they belong. The crowd cared about the Rosado fight and the main event. A crowd caring makes a big difference to a TV viewer. When the crowd on the TV isn't there, or doesn't care, the more likely the crowd watching TV won't care.

* They already promoted the March show with Zab Judah and Vernon Paris. This may seem like an afterthought, but believe me: A lot of boxing fans really have no idea what fights are happening, or when they're happening. Getting a quick mention and graphic worked in is important.

* I don't think this is any secret at this point: Overall, I really thought Main Events and NBC Sports did a great job tonight. This section is much bigger than the next one.

What Didn't Work

* The Barrera vs Singleton toilet break fight was awful. You'll often need a six-rounder or a swing fight to fill the two-hour timeslot, and that's fine. Having a buffer fight between a good opener and a good main event is an understandable idea. But you have to book guys who can and will fight for that role, or you risk putting your audience to sleep or having them change the channel, where they'll get stuck on a Jersey Shore re-run or some college basketball or the like. Even something ultimately meaningless, like the semi-legendary Luna vs Luna FNF swing fight, is much better than showcasing yet another boring Cuban "prospect" just so everyone can talk about their amateur pedigree.

* They're jam-packing the commercial breaks and then coming back with highlights of the last round. This has a bad habit of eliminating anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds of the current round. Joining a round in progress is no good. That has to stop.

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