ESPN.com's Dan Rafael reports that despite offers from two distributors, Wladimir Klitschko and his team have elected to go internet-only for the world heavyweight champion's March 20 defense against Eddie Chambers. The fight will be available to viewers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico via Klitschko.com for $14.95.
HBO, Showtime, ESPN and Versus were all contacted by Klitschko's people, and all turned it down. Two distributors (unnamed, but I'm guessing Integrated Sports was one) did offer to put the show on regular old pay-per-view, but Klitschko and his team turned down the offers.
"I am excited about the possibilities of Web broadcasting," Klitschko said in making the announcement. "I enjoy working on the computer and I am very interested in new technologies. I like the idea that we are pioneers with this new technology in a very important market. I am sure this technology will be the wave of the future."
Internet PPV has started getting some traction in boxing, and I love that it's getting there. But the fact is, there's really nothing good about Klitschko-Chambers being relegated to this small of a show in the United States. I'm almost ready to say heavyweight boxing is as close to dead as it's going to get.
Heavyweight boxing looks like a completely foreign concept at this point. Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko and David Haye hold the title belts, and there hasn't been an American titleholder since Shannon Briggs, Chris Byrd and John Ruiz, and none of them ever came close to thrilling American audiences.
But it's still pretty amazing that a fight like Klitschko-Chambers is a webcast and nothing more. And for those wondering how you're going to watch this fight in the States, there's your answer.
I'm sure a lot of people are going to try to get more creative.