Premiere Boxing Champions: Has Al Haymon's PBC been a success in boxing?
It has been almost one year since Premier Boxing Champions, also known as the PBC, was launched by Al Haymon, the boxing manager and advisor famously known for representing superstar boxer Floyd Mayweather.
The former music promoter brought an innovative approach to televised boxing, walking away from the pay-per-view model and instead offering the product to the masses on free-to-air television. Haymon immediately set up a deal with American broadcast giant NBC whereby he would pay the network $20 million per year for air time.
Haymon’s project is largely funded by investment firm Waddell & Reed, who committed to invest over $400m (approximately £275m), as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
The product has received a mixed reception so far, with opinions divided each side of the Atlantic.
Former British super welterweight challenger Gary Logan is satisfied with the PBC as it is providing competition, which is badly lacking in British boxing, given Matchroom Boxing’s monopoly on tv dates with the country’s biggest boxing broadcaster Sky Sports.
“It’s been good in the sense there is another outlet for it. In a market place, there should always be another outlet.
“There should be competition; competition is what makes the market place better,” explained Logan.
Michael Woods, a broadcaster for rival American network HBO, is less enthusiastic though and opined that expectations have not been met.
“There have been, to this point, more mismatches than many of us would have expected after almost 11 months of doing this.
“When we learned that Al Haymon had secured some $400m from a venture capital, we would have expected that because so much money was being spent, the best matches would be made. That has not been the case and that has been frustrating for people,” revealed Woods.
Clashes in scheduling have badly hurt the PBC, too, with many shows going head to head against daunting competition such as the NFL. Boxing Asylum’s Donny Trella, son of professional judge Don Trella, suggests Haymon is failing to market the product adequately.
"Any time Al Haymon puts on a card on a Sunday afternoon, between September and January, he’s literally going up against an organisation that owns a day of the week.
“The product is so nebulous in terms of its identity, nobody knows what’s going on. First of all, to a hardcore fan it’s very frustrating and to the casual fan they’re totally lost,” said Trella.
Trella suggests better fights are the key to PBC turning things around and building success in its second year.
“I think they need some better matchmakers, some better brand planners and some people who will put the right fights in the right spots at the right times.
“In general I am very happy with the exposure they are getting boxing, but considering all the resources they have, all the fighters they have and what they have done with that, it’s been less than impressive,” concluded Trella.
Woods is of a similar opinion and feels poor matchmaking has let the product down, leading him to award it a C grade after one year. But the vice president of the Boxing Writers Association of America is optimistic it can rise to an A grade soon.
Woods says: “The material offered by PBC comes in at a C because the quality of the matchmaking has not been what many of us would hope it would be.
“How do these guys get from a C to an A? Give us evenly matched fights, pick ‘em fights, fights in which we really strongly don’t know who is going to win. If you do that, 80% of the time you can get to that B grade and then to an A grade.”