Mark Ortega

Epix taking a break from boxing – at least for now

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Beginning with March 2011′s heavyweight title fight between Vitali Klitschko and Odlanier Solis, little-known premium cable network Epix jumped headfirst into the boxing game, televising European cards that were getting passed on by HBO and Showtime.

However, since this past May’s heavyweight title fight between Wladimir Klitschko and Francesco Pianeta, the network has been mum regarding any new fights on their schedule. In fact, the Epix Sports Twitter account has been silent since May 16, causing one to wonder if the network has decided to bow out of the fight game for good.

“There are no boxing events planned this summer, but we remain interested in great opportunities that are a good fit for Epix,” said Epix chief of staff Nora Ryan on Friday afternoon after being reached by e-mail.

Ryan continued by saying they are expanding their Epix Sports documentary programming, with several documentaries currently in development. Ryan said a few of these involve boxing and that she would notify RingTV of an impending announcement.

Though it isn’t available in a large number of households, Epix became popular with boxing fans over the past few years. Those who didn’t have the ability to order the channel were instead able to watch the fights on live streams via free trials provided by the network.

In mid-June, Epix chief creative officer Travis Pomposello, who was very involved in procuring the network’s boxing programming, announced his resignation from the company, no doubt indicating that they were going in a different direction in regards to the sport.

2012 was a pretty fine year for Epix in regards to boxing. Over a four-week stretch in February and March, the network televised three heavyweight title fights, including a Fight of the Year candidate between Alexander Povetkin and cruiserweight champion Marco Huck, as well as Dereck Chisora’s exciting challenge against Vitali Klitschko. This concluded with the mismatch between Wladimir Klitschko and Jean Marc Mormeck.

The network also snatched away the enticing fight between Lucian Bute and Carl Froch last May, a fight that somehow was passed on by both HBO and Showtime, who had previously invested a lot in both fighters. The fight and atmosphere in Froch’s native Nottingham were both as outstanding as Froch’s upset victory was shocking. The network had also put together a well-executed preview show prior to the fight, showing that they had the ability to compete with the two-headed monster of HBO and Showtime in the production department.

The announcement that Epix is at the very least taking a break from boxing is a bit of a disappointment. For American fight fans, they provided the only legal way to watch major European boxing shows without resorting to bootleg streams of overseas broadcasts. In the meantime, hopefully another network steps up and fills the void.

 

Photo: Thomas Kienzle-AFP/Gettyimages

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