It's a rare occurrence to have five belts change hands on the same night, but that's exactly what happened last Saturday on Showtime and HBO, broadcasting from London and Cancun respectively.
Showtime Championship Boxing led off at 9 p.m. ET, or more accurately in this case 2 a.m. London time, with a cruiserweight unification bout between WBO titlist Enzo Maccarinelli and WBA-WBC belt holder David "The Hayemaker" Haye. Maccarinelli, from Wales, and Haye from London, combined to provide the raucous, sold-out crowd of 20,000 at the O2 Arena a much anticipated matchup of big punchers.
Those crazy Brits are some frenzied boxing fans, and quite patient as well. Once again they were scheduled in the middle of the night to accommodate U.S. TV, and once again they were there in force, properly lubricated to blow the roof off with noise. It's almost as if they don't care about the time because the pubs are closed anyway.
When the fighters were introduced by ring announcer Jimmy Lennon you had to feel a strong gut feeling about which man looked to be the best bet. Haye made his ring walk with a look of defiance and confidence as he was cheered by his home town. He came through the ropes and paced the ring furiously as if he couldn't wait to get a crack at his opponent.
Maccarinelli, despite the presence of superstar Joe Calzaghe in his corner to support him, was greeted with a chorus of boos and had the look of a wide-eyed doe. Enzo's upper torso jiggled considerably as he warmed up in the ring. By contrast, Haye looked like an underwear model with a cut, trim body that didn't seem to have the first ounce of fat.
Haye staggered Maccarinelli a minute into round two with a good right, and then cleverly worked his opponent into the corner with the jab, a hook, and another clubbing right. A picture-perfect right hand drove Maccarinelli into the ring post and in a squatting position, and probably should have been scored a knockdown by referee John Keane. Instead Haye unloaded a barrage of lefts and rights to place Maccarinelli on the floor.
Enzo bravely got to his feet, wobbling around the ring like Gary Busey on Oscar night. Keene called off the massacre at 2:04 of the round.
Maccarinelli's record falls to 28-2 (21) with the defeat, while Haye ups his resume to 21-1 (20).
Haye's hand speed, power, and right hands made it a short night and made it possible to switch to HBO without missing any of the action there. He plans to move to heavyweight where he might well be a factor if he can match these attributes with a solid chin.
Just last November he was floored by Jean Marc Mormeck before rallying to stop the Frenchman in seven and win the WBA-WBC titles. He was also TKO'd four years ago by 40-year-old Carl Thompson in his next to last fight. So even with his natural athleticism, he's going to need a strong beard to compete with the big boys.
Somebody at Showtime is certainly thinking outside of the box. While there was only one fight on Saturday's card, the network followed with a tape delay showing of EliteXC Presents Cage Rage 25 from Wembley Arena. They're using the same tactic on March 29 with an EliteXC Strikeforce MMA card, followed by a special Saturday ShoBox card, featuring four undefeated fighters from the UK.
On that March 29 ShoBox card, Carl Froch faces Dennis Inkin in a super middleweight eliminator and lightweights John Murray and John Fewkes get it on in the co-feature. I saw Murray about three years ago and thought he had a good future, and if he does, ShoBox is the place to show it.
These fights in the UK, fought with good fighters and enthusiastic crowds, coupled with the mixed marketing of MMA and boxing shows that Showtime is on a mission to provide their subscribers with top entertainment, despite lacking the budget of HBO, and more often than not they do just that.