Stephen Espinoza determined to bring back boxing post-COVID-19 global shutdown
In 2020, the boxing community remembers full well what happened as the COVID-19 pandemic took away our weekend love-affair with boxing. For months, there were no fights being broadcast. Then towards the middle of the year, fans were able to watch boxing in empty arenas. Fast forward to 2021, things are back to normal with fans in the stands. Moreover, boxing commentator Brian Custer credits Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza for delivering on his word.
When the global pandemic hit, the boxing community was helpless as everything came to an immediate halt. Thankfully, Top Rank created The Bubble, a controlled environment where fighters stayed inside restricted areas, away from the public. This idea signaled the return of boxing without fans. DAZN promoter Eddie Hearn created Fight Camp, where he had a boxing ring built in the backyard of his mansion and hosted a few fights.
However, once boxing was able to resume in full force, Showtime put forward top-quality match-ups. According to boxing commentator and host of The Last Stand podcast Brian Custer, the success of the network belongs to Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza.
ALL IN THE DELIVERY
In 2020, Espinoza once said that the return of boxing would see smaller cards without fans. During an interview with 3kingsboxing, Brian Custer was asked how would he rate boxing’s return following the 2020 pandemic. He was very candid in explaining why Espinoza deserves credit for delivering top-quality fights to the fans.
“I would give boxing, the sport overall, a B. I think other people could do a better job at match-ups. But listen, I’m going to be Biased Brian. I give Showtime an A, I give Espinoza an A. Because he put an emphasis on this year, and I love that he did this.
He said it from jump, ‘we coming back from the pandemic, we getting out of the bubble, and we are going to go on the road. And if we going to go on the road, especially coming out of this pandemic, we have to deliver. . .The only way we can deliver and really infuse energy into this sport is by delivering unification fights and high, meaningful fights and make sure we give them entertainment.’
Let’s be honest, he (Espinoza) has done all three.”
Custer would then break down all the accomplishments of the network’s President of Sports.
“What other network has delivered unification fights? And that is what we have done. We got Stephen Fulton-Brandon Figueroa coming up. We just had (Jermell) Charlo and (Brian) Castaño to be undisputed. We were trying to put together (John Riel) Casimero and Nonito Donaire before they had their falling out with one another. If you look at all of our fight cards, most of them have been either A: championship fights, but B: unification fights, which is what boxing fans crave.”
Custer would end his statement by saying that Showtime has had one of its best years.
“You are giving hardcore boxing fans what they want, which is unification fights. . .You got to give people their money’s worth. . .I love what Espinoza has done, and this is probably one of the best years Showtime has had.”
By: Garrisson Bland