It wasn't long ago that fans basically had two premium networks to choose from when looking for important boxing events: Showtime or HBO. HBO no longer wears boxing while fights are broadcast almost anywhere or streamed live.
At least, it seemed so in 2019 that recently, in many ways, has been the most remarkable year for sport, which was more happening outside the ring than inside the ring.
HBO ended its 45-year dominance in boxing in December 2018, creating a void that was filled by live streaming services such as DAZN and ESPN Plus as well as networks such as Fox Sports, FS1 and Showtime. Instead of watching the main fights on TV every other month, there were fights on a platform every other week.
"They go from a few years ago to not see boxes around everywhere," said Carl Moretti of Top Rank. "You have to say that that's why sport is healthy."
The downside was that fighters signed contracts with their advertising companies to fight only for the different platforms. DAZN offers fighters primarily from matchroom boxing, while Top Rank has a partnership with ESPN and ESPN Plus. Like Showtime, Fox Sports and its platforms are geared towards boxers from Premier Boxing Champions.
Most boxers stayed on their side of the road in 2019 when everyone got involved in this new way of doing business. DAZN presented Saul "Canelo" Alvarez twice in 2019, together with events at which Gennady "GGG" Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, Katie Taylor and Anthony Joshua were introduced.
Top Rank established itself with ESPN and ESPN Plus and offered matchups with world champions Terence Crawford, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Tyson Fury, Teofimo Lopez, Jamel Herring and Shakur Stevenson.
Premier Boxing Champions also has an abundance of talents, including former or current world champions Deontay Wilder, Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, Gervonta Davis and the Charlo twins Jermell and Jermall.
There were a lot of good matchups this year. Alvarez had great victories against Jacobs and Sergey Kovalev, while Manny Pacquiao proved that he had a lot left with a win over Adrien Broner and Thurman. Spence defeated Mikey Garcia and then Porter while Joshua lost and regained his heavyweight title against Andy Ruiz Jr. Wilder. He had successful title defenses against Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz, while Fury entertained on ESPN Plus and defeated Otto Wallin and Tom Schwarz. Lopez from Brooklyn and Stevenson from Newark became world champions, as did Marine Corps veterinarian Herring.
Overall, boxing will be delivered in 2019, but more is expected in 2020. Wilder and Fury meet in Las Vegas on February 22nd for a highly anticipated rematch, while a mighty showdown between Crawford and Spence could take place in the fall of Lopez vs. Lomachenko later in the year.
"Even if you look at the shared talents and networks, they'll need each other to fight the best," said Moretti. "Momentum says that people want the best fights, and you have to find a way to do that."
Trying to gain a foothold is women's boxing, which is becoming increasingly important in television programs. The two-time Olympic champion Claressa Shields, who appeared on Showtime, was the leader. Amanda Serrano won a much-vaunted fight against Heather Hardy on DAZN in September, while Taylor, a former Olympic champion from Ireland, won three global fights against DAZN and became a two-division champion.
The boxing business was booming in 2019. It shouldn't get better until 2020.