In Amir Khan Vs. Adrien Broner, A Formula For Showtime Supremacy?

(Amir Khan taunted Adrien Broner on Twitter based on how each man fared against Marcos Maidana with the above photo)

Much has made of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. reaching out to the masses to decide on his next opponent on Showtime pay-per-view. The truth, of course, was that he was trying to drum up some excitement for what would be a none too exciting affair, regardless of whether he went with Amir Khan, whom he rejected, or Marcos Maidana, the man he ended up with for May. The story is the same as always: Fans of his technical style will watch because few have his skill set, and those who hate him will watch in the hope he will get knocked out. What is missing is a viable opponent in the division — Timothy Bradley? Danny Garcia? — to get the casual fans to dig deep into their pockets. 

However, now with talks of Adrien Broner vs. Khan appearing on the undercard — with the victor potentially facing Mayweather in September — there is a buzz brewing. The co-feature with the winners facing off with each other has a WWE feel about it, to be sure, but also begins to give the fight game a slim sense of credibility: Someone will earned the right to have the high-profile Mayweather fight next. The problem with boxing at the moment is that it is not enough to win all your fights or be great in the ring; you need to be marketable, have a promoter selling you, be in the public eye, etc. The sense of a co-feature, on a much, much smaller scale to the Super Sixes gives the decision for title fights a sense of legitimacy and allows casual fans to follow the narrative of fighter, build a story and sell the next event, too.

This formula could be a winning strategy for Showtime (which, unlike HBO, doesn't place much value these days on what a PPV undercard can do for anyone, although that might be changing based on Manny Pacquiao-Bradley II having a higher quality than past recent HBO PPVs).

Being a boxing fan, I will watch what ever fight I can and I will probably watch the whole card, but my friends who watch football or other sports with me will only want to watch the big fights, with the familiar phrase being "when is the main event on?" Stick a co-feature on to build up four fighters, and punters feel they got more for their money and it sets up the next fight nicely.

The fear I have is after an amazing boxing calendar last year is that this year seems like it will be a prelude to an amazing year next year. Miguel Cotto vs. Sergio Martinez, Pacquiao vs. Bradley II and Carl Froch vs. George Groves II are the big fights this year thus far. But next year could see Gennady Golovkin finally getting a big-name opponent, Andre Ward fighting someone credible, someone worthwhile going after a heavyweight crown, and fighters like Keith Thurman, Kell Brook and Canelo Alvarez in big fights as a generation shifts, what with Cotto, Martinez, Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez and Wladimir Klitschko nearing the end. It is vital the up-and-comers are given promotion in co-features with the older generation so casual fans can make the transition. 

Showtime seems to realise that their main events are not as star-studded as HBO and have already given us some decent undercards. It stands to reason that the next step for Showtime is making the co-feature the newest weapon in their arsenal. Again, much like a WWE event, it is better to have a solid card with two main event-style fights between four B-grade fighters than a rubbish undercard with two superstars headlining. For the future of boxing, the sport needs up-and-coming fighters getting exposed to the public; for those fighters to face credible opponents; for them to develop a fan base (and not sold to us with records built on crappy fights); and for the fighters themselves get used to fighting in front of a sizable crowd.

There's been some talk of Khan-Broner not happening, of Broner going with John Molina instead. That came as news to Molina himself. Either way, Khan-Broner is no certainty. But: I think if Showtime do develop this approach and use the glow of the Mayweather appeal to build future stars, then that would give them a edge on HBO, which retains the status of industry giant over the smaller Showtime — at least, for now.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.