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HBO to Air 'On Freddie Roach,' January 20

Peter Berg's 'On Freddie Roach' debuts on January 20. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Peter Berg's 'On Freddie Roach' debuts on January 20. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
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From an HBO press release:

HBO and filmmaker Peter Berg will team up for the innovative new primetime series ON FREDDIE ROACH, directed and executive produced by Emmy® nominee Berg (“Friday Night Lights”).  Presented by HBO and a co-production of Film 44 and Atticus Entertainment, the cinéma-vérité series focuses on Freddie Roach, the world-famous boxing trainer who owns and operates the famed Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, where he has produced a host of world champions.  This intensely personal look at Roach chronicles his life and career against the backdrop of Parkinson’s disease, an ailment very likely linked to his own boxing past.

On Freddie Roach will be a highly produced show, at least as impressive as the production values for 24/7, touting a name director in Peter Berg. I wonder how far in advance they’re filming the six episodes, but even with footage that might be weeks or months dated, there’s a good chance of us viewers getting even more interactions between name boxers.

If the show relegates itself to the present, the life of a boxing coach with Parkinson's has inherent intrigue which may have been even more compelling if the public weren't so familiar with Roach, already. A historical perspective would feature Roach's steep resume and pedigree as a pupil under the late, great Eddie Futch (trainer of the late, great Joe Frazier). Somewhere in these six episodes there will be gym and fight footage, and the most compelling scene will be something like Manny Pacquiao's bloody nose moment with Linares from 24/7. The Linares moment is so compelling because it's Manny Pacquiao doing the consoling, the veil over his celebrity mystique lifting just a little, so we see something outside of his celebrity. A lot of the appeal comes from his star power, yes. HBO execs are likely banking this show's viewership on Manny Pacquiao’s momentum (slightly halted for the moment). There's the need to hinge the potential viewership on another of his boxers' success.

On Freddie Roach airs January 20 after Khan-Peterson will have transpired and likely the mess that is "what is Pacquiao’s next fight?" will have some clarity. Roach will continue to get his name in the news regarding these two subjects, and many more, I'm sure. 24/7 serves multiple purposes as dramatic reality television informed by an insider perspective, and advertisement for a PPV fight. On Freddie Roach will accomplish the former, and they (execs and Roach, himself) will likely want to sell another boxer from the Wild Card gym. I imagine this as something like a Freddie Roach 24/7. Of course, Freddie Roach will also get more exposure (for better or worse).

Wild Card is rife with name boxers and actors coming in and out. Roach is intrinsically linked to the Wild Card Gym, so I imagine an appearance by at least some of his stable. There’s Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan, of course, but also Julio Caesar Chavez Jr., whose life is bound to be intriguing out of the ring. There’s also come-backing Daniel Jacobs, and touted prospects Jose Benavidez and Peter Quillin.

If were an exec, I would put the camera on Robert Garcia’s stable. Let me set up a scene for you: Antonio Margarito, Nonito Donaire, Brandon Rios, and Kelly Pavlik (maybe) walk into a room...

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