Boxing: PBC's weekly FS1 debut featuring Austin Trout vs. Joey Hernandez

By Jeremy Wall

Premier Boxing Champions debuted their weekly series on Fox Sports 1 on Tuesday, September 8th with a main event of Austin Trout knocking out Joey Hernandez in the sixth round at middleweight. The broadcast began at 9pm ET and also featured a co-main event with Jorge Lara going to a technical draw with Jesus Rojas at featherweight.

Trout, 29, outclassed Hernandez, 30, in every round before scoring the knockout with a series of body punches in the sixth. Hernandez was getting frustrated early in the fight. In the fourth round, he actually tossed Trout with a pro wrestling bodyslam, which resulted in point deduction.

The score at the time of the knockout was 50-44 for Trout on all three cards.

Trout improved to 30-2 (17 KOs). His two losses were both in 2013 by unanimous decision to Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara, respectively. Trout also holds a unanimous decision win over Miguel Cotto in 2012. Hernandez fell to 24-4-1 (14 KOs).

Hernandez isn’t a terrible journeyman, but he was clearly brought in as a B-side opponent to showcase Trout for PBC’s debut on FS1. Trout is a former WBA Super Welterweight champion. He lost the title to Canelo. He moved up to middleweight in December 2014 and is now 3-0 since the move.

“We got a good win with a knockout. I’m happy to be here. I want to thank the fans for showing up. If you didn’t come for me this time, you will next time,” Trout said in his post-fight interview.

“From the first round, I had no legs. I was conditioned, but the day of the weigh-in I had to lose nine pounds. It is hard to come back from that,” Hernandez said in the post-fight press release. Hernandez weighed in at 156 pounds, but hydrated nearly 20 pounds up to 175 pounds the day of the fight. Trout also weighed in at 156.

The announcers kept pushing the idea of a feud between Trout and Julian “J-Rock” Williams, as they have a beef on Twitter. Williams fought Hernandez in the latter’s last fight back in April. Williams won via unanimous decision. The idea was that now Trout beat the same guy, but knocked him out in the sixth round instead of only winning a decision. Williams (20-0-1, 12 KOs) is scheduled to fight Luciano Cuello (35-3, 17 KOs) on the third PBC on FS1 broadcast, which airs September 22nd.

The three major middleweight stars in boxing, however, are Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, and Gennady Golovkin. They are all signed to promotions that work with HBO and not PBC. Plus, Trout has already lost to Canelo and Cotto anyway. So, it’s not like Trout can really be built into a situation where he is the opponent for a major name at middleweight.

A fight with Williams, however, would be an interesting TV bout. A couple of other possibilities for Trout are matches with WBO Middleweight champion Andy Lee and WBA “regular” champion Daniel Jacobs (the WBA “super” champion is Golovkin, who is generally regarded as the real WBA champ at middleweight). Lee beat Peter Quillin to retain his title on a NBC broadcast in May. Jacobs successfully defended his title against Caleb Truax on Spike TV in April and Sergio Mora on ESPN in August. None of these would be major fights, but they could be something used in a network TV co-main.

Also airing on FS1, Jorge Lara, 24, went to a draw with Jesus Rojas, 28. Lara’s left eye was cut in the third round and his right eye cut in the fifth from accidental headbutts. After the sixth round he was unable to continue fighting due to the cuts. The fight went to the scorecards. All three judges had it 57-57. Lara’s record fell to 21-1-2 (15 KOs) and Rojas’ record fell to 27-0-2 (19 KOs).

The card also included unaired prelims featuring wins by notable prospects such as Eddie Ramirez (10-0, 17 KOs, 23 yo, super lightweight), Ahmed Elbiali (12-0, 11 KOs, 24 yo, light-heavyweight), and Kevin Watts (9-0, 3 KOs, 23 yo, super lightweight), among others.

The fights took place at the Hollywood Palladium, which has a capacity of 3,700. Production was scaled back dramatically. If not for the PBC graphics at commercial breaks, it would be impossible to tell this was a PBC broadcast. The broadcast completely lacked the expensive hallmarks associated with the PBC brand. The arena was dark. The FS1 series is obviously going to be the inexpensive weekly broadcast to showcase prospects, perhaps generating a bit of interest in them before moving them along to fights on NBC, CBS, or ESPN.

The debut of PBC on FS1 had been rumoured for months, but officially announced by Fox in August. Fox was the last major network (besides The CW) not to be working with PBC in some capacity, as NBC and CBS have both broadcast multiple PBC shows and ABC has aired PBC on ESPN. It is unknown whether Fox’s deal with PBC includes broadcasts on the Fox Network, or if the deal pertains only to FS1. PBC’s deal with Fox includes 21 shows running through June 2016. The broadcasts are simulcast on Fox Deportes.

Nothing has been announced regarding PBC airing on Big Fox. With UFC as Fox’s broadcasting partner, it will be interesting the effect that PBC airing on FS1 has on UFC’s contract renewal negotiations with Fox in a couple of years (assuming any effect at all). I had figured Fox sat out of making a deal with PBC when all the other networks were lining up to work with Al Haymon because Fox already had UFC. They also aired Golden Boy, but they never drew great ratings on FS1.

PBC replaced Golden Boy as the boxing content provider for FS1. It was a major blow to Golden Boy, since their FS1 shows were the main way the promotion exposed rising stars to a wider audience. Golden Boy had their final boxing card on FS1 on June 30th, although they’ve continued to air “Golden Boy Classics” on Fox Deportes.

After losing the FS1 deal, Golden Boy announced a three-year deal with Estrella TV. Estrella is a Spanish language network that covers more than 85-percent of Hispanic TV households in the US and is popular in Los Angeles, but only reaches about 33 million homes in total. FS1, by comparison, reaches about 84.8 million homes. Fox Deportes reaches about 21.8 million homes. Estrella, however, isn’t a sports specific station, but a generalized Spanish-language broadcast network.

The final Golden Boy broadcast on FS1 aired on June 26th. It drew 129,000 viewers in the 10pm-12am ET slot. PBC on FS1 received a slightly better timeslot, so we will see what kind of ratings PBC brings compared to Golden Boy.

The new PBC on FS1 series is being packaged as “Toe-to-Toe Tuesdays”. This is not to be confused with Spike’s “Friday Night Lights Out” or TruTV’s “Friday Night Knockout”.

The list of channels that have aired PBC boxing now include NBC, CBS, Spike, ESPN, Fox Sports 1, Bounce TV, NBC Sports, and CBS Sports. At some point PBC will probably also air on ABC. Showtime also airs cards that are de facto PBC cards, although they aren’t officially promoted as such.

The show was hosted by Brian Kenney. Commentary was provided by Gus Hunter and Paulie Malignaggi, the latter being the regular colour analyst for most PBC broadcasts at this point. There was a wide variety of television commercials, which is notable because when PBC debuted earlier this year on NBC and CBS, there were almost no TV commercials because PBC was still trying to sell ad time. PBC shows on those networks now have a variety of commercials, but didn’t debut that way. The FS1 broadcast, however, debuted with ad space already sold ahead of time, which makes it unclear whether this is a time buy, or if it is a time buy and PBC is now having an easier time selling ad space.

The debut on FS1 didn’t receive much media attention. Most of the boxing press in the past couple of days has been focusing on the announcement that Timothy Bradley will fight Brandon Rios later in the year. Also, there has been a lot of press written on how poor ticket sales have been for Mayweather-Berto in Las Vegas this weekend. I’m in Vegas for the fight and I feel no sense of hype in town whatsoever, although that could change since we’re still a few days out and media for fight week just got started Tuesday afternoon with the fighter arrivals at the MGM Grand hotel lobby.

PBC on FS1 returns next Tuesday with Sammy Vasquez (19-0, 13 KOs) vs. Jose Lopez (25-3-1, 15 KOs) at welterweight.

PBC also has shows this week on September 11th on Spike and an afternoon show September 12th on NBC. TruTV also has a Top Rank show September 11th, airing against the Spike show, the latter of which has Adonis Stevenson debuting in Toronto. The week ends with the Mayweather-Berto spectacle on September 12th on pay per view and live at the MGM Grand.

Jeremy Wall can be contacted at jeremywall1984@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @jeremydalewall.

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