For the first time since the coronavirus quarantine halted the global boxing schedule in mid-March, the sweet science appears poised for a star-studded return over the second half of 2020.
Showtime Sports and Premier Boxing Champions announced a schedule on Wednesday of nine fight cards over the next five months, including a pair of pay-per-view events, which will take place at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. PBC is expected to share the venue with the ViacomCBS-owned Bellator MMA, with all events taking place without fans in attendance.
PBC, which also holds a broadcasting deal with Fox, will present more than 20 fights in all on Showtime to close out the year, with five title eliminators, two interim title bouts and 14 fights featuring top-10 ranked fighters against one another. The schedule is highlighted by PPV events headlined by 25-year-old rising star Gervonta Davis and the Charlo twins in separate title bouts.
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"We are proud to announce the strongest and most comprehensive schedule of fights in all of boxing," said Stephen Espinoza, president of sports and event programming for Showtime Networks Inc. "Each bout on this schedule, our largest schedule announcement since 2018, carries high stakes and significant implications.
"From highly regarded prospects to emerging stars to established champions -- all in tough matchups -- this lineup delivers on our promise to provide boxing fans with the best talent, the most exciting fights and the highest quality presentation in the sport. We are thrilled to return to live boxing with this star-studded schedule of exciting, meaningful fights."
Davis (23-0, 22 KOs), a southpaw slugger who has won titles in two weight classes, will headline his first PPV on Oct. 24 when he faces four-division champion Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs). The fight will be contested at 130 pounds.
One month earlier on Sept. 26, the 30-year-old Charlo twins will take part in a unique PPV doubleheader in which each brother will headline their own three-bout mini-card on the same telecast. Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) will unify his WBC junior welterweight title against IBF and WBA champion Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs) while Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) defends his WBC middleweight title against former world title challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) on the same night.
"We couldn't be more excited to be finally getting back to boxing," Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said. "Everyone has been patiently waiting and the series of fights that we will collectively put on over the next few months will be great for boxing and the sports world in general."
Even these plans have not been able to avoid the global pandemic. The first main event of the slate, Stephen Fulton Jr. vs. Angelo Leo, has been affected as Fulton Jr. tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw. Leo will still fight on and face Tramaine Williams for the vacant WBO junior featherweight title.
The following is a rundown of the complete schedule:
- Main event: Angelo Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) vs. Tramaine Williams (19-0, 6 KOs) for vacant WBO junior featherweight title.
- Co-features: Ra'ee Aleem vs. Marcus Bates, junior featherweights; Joe George vs. Marcos Escudero, light heavyweights.
- Main event: David Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) vs. Roamer Alexis Angulo (26-1, 22 KOs) for Benavidez's WBC super middleweight title.
- Co-features: Rolando Romero vs. Jackson Martinez for vacant WBA lightweight interim title; Otto Wallin-Travis Kauffman, heavyweights
- Main event: Erickson Lubin (22-1, 16 KOs) vs. Terrell Gausha (21-1-1, 10 KOs), junior middleweights.
- Co-features: Tugstsogt Nyambayar vs. Eduardo Ramirez, featherweights; Jaron "Boots" Ennis vs. TBA, welterweights.
Sept. 26 (PPV)
- Main event: Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-2, 10 KOs) for Charlo's WBC middleweight title.
- Co-features: Brandon Figueroa vs. Damien Vasquez for Figueroa's WBA junior featherweight title; Diego Magdaleno vs. Isaac Cruz, lightweights.
- Main event: Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) vs. Jeison Rosaro (20-1-1, 14 KOs) in WBC, WBA, IBF junior middleweight unification.
- Co-features: Mario Barrios vs. Ryan Karl for Barrios' WBA junior welterweight title; Daniel Roman vs. TBA, junior featherweights.
- Main event: Sergey Lipinets (16-1, 12 KOs) vs. Kudratillo Abdukahorov (15-0, 8 KOs) for IBF interim welterweight title.
- Co-features: Xavier Martinez vs. Claudio Marrero, junior lightweights; Malik Hawkins vs. Subriel Matias, junior welterweights.
Oct. 24 (PPV)
- Main event: Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) vs. Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) for Davis' WBA lightweight title and Santa Cruz's WBA junior lightweight title
- Main event: Chris Colbert (14-0, 5 KOs) vs. Jaime Arboleda (16-1, 13 KOs), junior lightweights.
- Co-feature: Richardson Hitchins vs. Argenis Mendez, junior welterweights
- Main event: Nordine Oubaali (17-0, 12 KOs) vs. Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) for Oubaali's WBC bantamweight title.
- Co-features: TBA