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Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Shane Mosley bout a rarity for boxing: It features two Americans
During the 1970s and '80s, when prizefighting remained enthralling thanks to American talent in the non-heavyweight divisions, every major network featured boxing programming, including ABC's hugely popular "Wide World of Sports" with Cosell.
NBC, which showcased boxing on its "Cavalcade of Sports" during the 1940s and '50s, recently dabbled in boxing on national television with "The Contender" in 2005. The short-lived program, which was hosted by Leonard, chronicled the lives of aspiring professional boxers competing against one another in a tournament-style format. It was canceled after one season.
"I'll tell you something that's so dramatically missing from boxing in the U.S., and that is it is devoid of network television," Newman said.
"All three networks consistently had programming that fascinated people, that captured interest in the growth of young fighters, so by the time they reached the stature to fight on closed-circuit television or pay-per-view, they had audiences that had been cultivated through their journeys into their living rooms on network television. . . . It's a time-tested successful model that doesn't exist anymore. You don't find that appeal without that exposure."
Some of boxing's current promoters appear to be listening. Richard Schaefer, chief executive of De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, has said he plans to bring boxing to network television in the near future even though some analysts are predicting this fight, perhaps the most heavily promoted of all time, could set the record for pay-per-view buys.
"I believe this is the type of fight all fans around the world want to see," said Mosley, who has won titles in three weight classes.
Mayweather and Mosley can only hope their fight will evoke comparisons to some of the seminal bouts from decades ago, including Leonard-Hearns in 1981 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and Leonard-Hagler six years later at the same venue. The long-term viability of American boxing could be a casualty if it doesn't.
"Where you have quantity, quality comes. See, we haven't had quantity in the United States, the reason being we don't have the great amateur programs from when Muhammad was around, Leonard was around," Dundee said. "You had plenty of kids [involved in boxing]. College boxing was important. We don't have that no more.
"What's happening now is we've got Mayweather and Sugar Shane. That's going to create action. That's going to create activity. We'll have the next guy to fight Pacquiao, so these kind of fights are what gives you development."