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Top Rank Boxing on Spike TV: Tournament Format Being Discussed

Bob Arum and Top Rank are negotiating with Spike TV, but will a tournament idea be effective? (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Bob Arum and Top Rank are negotiating with Spike TV, but will a tournament idea be effective? (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
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Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Lem Satterfield of The Ring has more on the Top Rank-Spike TV relationship and negotiations, as the boxing promotional firm and the cable channel are discussing something a bit different for a potential 36-week run.

Spike TV spokesperson David Schwarz acknowledge that discussions about bringing boxing to the network have taken place, although he would not say Top Rank Inc. was involved.

"Right now, all that I can say is that we're talking to a lot of people," said Schwarz. "Spike is looking to expand its horizons and we're talking to a lot of different sports organizations."

According to a source familiar with the talks, however, Top Rank Inc. and Spike Television have had discussions about a tournament series, characterizing the conversations as "brainstorming," and adding that "March would be premature" to mention as a starting date.

Obviously if you're looking at something like a tournament format, something similar to what Bellator does in MMA, March 9 would be super early to debut.

I, uh, probably am not as excited about the tournament idea as some of you might be, but it's because boxing has taught me to believe that half the tournaments in this format would probably never really finish. If a guy gets a couple wins and then a matchup he doesn't like, what do I expect: For him to go through with it, or for some mysterious injury to crop up and prevent his further participation?

MMA's athletes are just taught differently, and have a different mindset, and lower-level guys believe in a concept that says if you fight, and you win, then you go on to better things, and if you fight and lose, you can come back from that by proving yourself. Boxers have been conditioned to believe that a loss sends you to purgatory and that it's a long, hard road back from one, especially at the lower levels before TV has gotten into hyping you as The Next Big Thing.

So what's the upside? You get a bunch of third and fourth tier fighters and create another "Contender," basically? I hated "The Contender." Those are the guys who generally believe there's nothing to lose, because in most cases there really is nothing to lose.

I'd simply prefer a regular old boxing show with some good, inexpensive fights like ShoBox or Friday Night Fights or the Main Events series on NBC Sports (fingers crossed). As much as I'd like to believe tournaments are some wave of the future in boxing, I just don't, and it's because the ways of doing business in boxing are so deeply carved into the stone of the business that I don't just expect things to be different because they suddenly decide tournaments are a good idea.

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