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To compete with UFC/Fox, NBC will debut first boxing card January 17, 2012 3:04 AM by Vegas Runner

In an attempt to keep pace with the ever growing sport of MMA and the UFC’s latest major network deal with FOX, which will certainly reach and try to attract an even wider audience, the sport of boxing is set to make it’s own debut on the NBC Sports Network this weekend.

The newly acquired television channel that will broadcast sports 24/7 will provide a stage and opportunity for boxing to appeal to a generation that’s quickly turning to MMA for its fight fix and give us loyalists much more to watch on TV.

Until now, those of us with a thirst for boxing action had to wait and quench it via ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, which doesn’t run year round. Otherwise, we are left awaiting a bout that’s worthy of being shown on HBO, Showtime, or even pay-per-view when warranted. In other words, we have rarely been afforded the opportunity to witness prospects become contenders and build their resumes.

That is expected to change starting in 2012 according to various promoters of the sport, and there’s no better proof they aren’t simply telling us what we want to hear than this new platform set to debut on NBC Sports Network this coming Saturday night,. And, the perfect city was chosen for this launch.

Philadelphia will play host to the very first boxing card for NBC and, according to the CEO of Main Events,, Kathy Duva, "Philly has a powerful boxing history and many avid boxing fans; we want to use that to make our show successful."

In fact, five of the eight scheduled bouts on the card feature fighters from Philadelphia, which should go a long way toward having the kind of interest needed to ensure the fans come out to support the event. And after combing through the matchups, I can definitely say without any doubt an excellent job was done in putting together some very intriguing bouts.

Unfortunately, one of the fights I wanted to see most and am quite sure you did as well has been cancelled and a replacement is yet to be announced. That fight was the scheduled main event between Eddie Chambers and Sergei Liakhovich.

It was set to pit two very worthy heavyweights who had plenty at stake as far as their future in the division is concerned but after Chambers suffered two fractured ribs in training, he was forced to withdraw. The promoters are currently reaching out for possible replacements and expect to make an announcement very soon.

That leaves the co-main event as the feature draw, and luckily it too is a good one. The attention will center around the welterweight division as Jesus Soto Karass (24-6-3-1, 16 KO’s) faces Gabriel Rosado (18-5-0, 10 KO’s), with the latter having the home edge being from Philly.

This is nothing new for Soto Karass, who has already stepped into the ring twice with Philly’s biggest boxing star at the moment, Mike Jones. The first fight against Jones took place on the under-card of Margarito vs. Pacquiao, where he lost a highly contested and some believe controversial 10-round decision.

Soto Karass has compiled a 13-0-1 record over a four year stretch leading up to that fight, but he’s since dropped his last four in a row and is in desperate need of a win.

For Rosado, this marks a huge step up in competition but he’s expected to be the bigger man in this fight since Soto Karass will be moving up in weight. At 25 years of age, Rosado comes in on a four fight win streak and

his style is definitely one of the main reasons he was chosen for this card, besides being a home-town fighter.

He’s an extremely crowd pleasing boxer who has constantly found himself in all out wars throughout his short professional career. Rosado is what we call a puncher who prefers to walk his opponents down and throw each shot with bad intentions, rather than try to outbox them.

Since Soto Karass is not one to take a backward step and has always been considered a relentless type of fighter, this bout has all the makings of an exciting back and forth brawl between two men who will test each others perseverance throughout.

I have yet to see a line on this fight even through off-shore sports books but expect they’ll offer one as the fight draws near. Though Soto Karass will be going up in weight for this bout, his experience coupled with name recognition will certainly make him the listed favorite.

The question is how much chalk will we be asked to lay to back him because Rosado may be a live dog who has some bite, especially fighting in front of his home crowd. It was just weeks ago when we witnessed Lamont Peterson use the very same advantage to win a controversial decision against the heavily favored Amir Khan.

Granted, Rosado does not possess the skill set in comparison to Soto Karass that Peterson did for his fight, but even so, the younger fighter has a legitimate shot against what appears to be an opponent in the stretch run of his career. In short, I will personally be taking a pass on betting this fight and instead simply enjoy the entire card as a fan.

Finally, I couldn’t be happier to see that boxing is finally acknowledging the pressure being put on it by MMA, most notably the UFC. For us bettors and fans, this will certainly mean we will be in for much more boxing than we’ve seen in a long time, which will result in more cards and opportunities to find some value.

GOSSIP

Sergio Martinez has desperately been in need of a rival for some time and though he faces Matthew Macklin on March 17 to defend his middleweight title, the fight is attracting as much interest as his 2011 bout against Darren Barker did – very modest at best.

His goal was to have a mega-fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., but that never materialized and Martinez claims he’s being ducked. Now there’s word a possible Miguel Cotto vs. Chavez Jr. match up is in the works, making Martinez once again the odd man out.

Mayweather Jr. vs. Pacquiao … I’m sure like most, you are starting to tire of all the talk and lack of action between the two sides in making this fight a reality. Rather than bore you with quotes from all involved including more or less the entire camps of both fighters, I’ll simply go on record stating that they are no closer to meeting in the ring than they were this time last year … or the year before that … or the year before that.

(Vegas-Runner is a professional sports bettor in Las Vegas. He’s been featured on CNBC/ESPN and currently holds the record for "Most Units Won" in a single year at the Sports Monitor. Follow VR on Twitter @vegasrunner and at Pregame.com.)

 

 

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