CBS Sports gets back in the TV boxing ring in 2015

Julio Cesar Chavez will fight on CBS in 2015.
Julio Cesar Chavez will fight on Showtime in 2015. (USATSI)

It’s official. Boxing is back on CBS.

A multi-year venture between CBS Sports and Showtime Sports will go live with a two-bout card -- involving light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson and unbeaten slugger Artur Beterbiev against separate opponents -- on the flagship CBS network at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 4.

The agreement will yield up to eight live shows on CBS in 2015. No back-end date for the deal was specified.

Stevenson, the World Boxing Council (WBC) champion at 175 pounds, will defend his crown against former 168-pound title-holder Sakio Bika in the main event; following a co-feature that matches eighth-ranked contender Beterbiev and another former champion, Gabriel Campillo, who’s ranked fifth.

Premier Boxing Champions on CBS will air in conjunction with marquee Showtime Championship Boxing events as part of a partnership that will cross-promote the live shows across multiple platforms.

Each live event on CBS and Showtime will be supported with short- and long-form shoulder programming that will air on CBS, Showtime and CBS Sports Network. A significant marketing budget will be dedicated to promoting each of the live CBS broadcasts and each major Showtime telecast.

"The Premier Boxing Champions series on CBS will help usher in a new era in the storied history of boxing," said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports.

"With the support of our parent company, we are uniquely positioned for a three-tiered approach that includes live boxing broadcasts on America’s No. 1 network, the cable reach of CBS Sports Network, and, of course, the premium television leader in boxing, Showtime. The benefit of elevating the sport across these platforms for all involved, including Showtime, is immeasurable." 

CBS aired a one-off live event featuring current WBC 122-pound champion Leo Santa Cruz in 2012, but, prior to that, the last live boxing on the network was when Bernard Hopkins met Glen Johnson in 1997.

The April 4 CBS event will be previewed during a Showtime Championship Boxing card on March 28 featuring Jhonny Gonzalez and Gary Russell Jr. in a featherweight championship main event. Showtime will follow up on April 18 with a main event between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Andrzej Fonfara, and the series continues on CBS on May 9 with a Saturday afternoon bout (4:30 p.m. ET) between Omar Figueroa and Ricky Burns.

The April 18 and May 9 shows will bookend a May 2 Showtime pay-per-view fight involving Floyd Mayweather Jr. and a to-be-determined opponent. A long-awaited Mayweather match with fellow welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao has been recently speculated, but no confirmation was given that Pacquiao would be the May 2 foe.

Additional confirmed 2015 dates on CBS are set for June, July and September, with as many as three more to be added to the calendar. Other than the premiere, all live CBS shows will begin at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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