FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
TRANSCRIPT- NBC SPORTS GROUP PREMIER BOXING CHAMPIONS ON NBC PRESS CONFERENCE
JAN. 14, 2015
11 A.M. ET
DAN MASONSON: Good morning, and welcome to the famed studio 8H here at 30 Rockefeller Center. This studio is the current home of Saturday Night Live. And in keeping with the big event nature of this venue, we’re here today to announce a major new sports television series.
Before we begin, a few quick points – we will have brief comments from all of the participants here in our boxing ring today. All will be available after the event to answer your questions.
I would like to introduce our Master of Ceremonies, Liam McHugh, the host of NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the NHL and Notre Dame football.
LIAM MCHUGH: Thank you. Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here. I apologize, I am a little bit under the weather. I’m a little hoarse, so bear with me. But I have to say it’s very easy to start feeling better when you have the amazing energy of this studio right here and you have amazing guests like we do today, and the adrenalin that’s going to be associated with the announcement that we have coming up.
But first things first, let’s begin with introductions.
Joining us right here in our special NBC Boxing‑Ring is the President of Programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, Jon Miller. As well as a man who certainly needs no introduction, but I’m very honored to give one to him. Six‑time world champion, Boxing Hall of Famer Sugar Ray Leonard.
Also at this time I would like to recognize some special guests that we have with us in the front row, from NBC Sports Group, we have the Chairman of NBC Sports Group, Mark Lazarus. Next to him, our Chief Marketing Officer, John Miller, next to him is the Executive Producer of NBC Sports and NBCSN, Sam Flood, and David Gibson, NBC Sports Coordinating Producer of Boxing.
Also, very, very pleased to have a few boxing VIPs with us today, Hall of Famers, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns is here, as is Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for being here. As you heard right there, it’s a pretty exciting time to be part of NBC Sports, as we build towards the future here. But before we look ahead, why don’t we take a quick look back at the history of boxing on NBC. [VIDEO]
JON MILLER: Good morning, everyone. Today is a very special day for NBC and the sport of boxing. Beginning on Saturday, March 7th, the NBC Sports Group will kick off a new era of professional boxing.
We’re excited to announce today a new boxing series, Premier Boxing Champions, which we will call the PBC on NBC. In 2015, NBC Sports will present 20 live boxing shows, including 11 on NBC, five of which will be in prime time and nine will be on NBCSN.
Interesting fact, it’s been over 30 years since NBC had a major fight on prime time. That was in 1985 when Larry Holmes defeated Carl “The Truth” Williams [on May 20, 1985].
In addition, NBCSN will have pre and post fight coverage of the prime time shows. We will provide a Spanish language audio feed for each of these shows as well as encores on the NBCUniverso cable channel.
Our telecast will feature top matches with the best fighters from the top venues. We will present the PBC on NBC with the same high production value that viewers saw this past weekend led by Sam Flood on our NFL Playoffs and that we show every other year in the Olympics on NBC.
And now I’m excited to throw it to the esteemed broadcaster who we are excited to name as the host of our prime time shows on NBC, he needs no introduction, let’s roll tape.
AL MICHAELS: Hey, gang, great to be with you, and I’m really looking forward to getting back into the world of boxing because I started with boxing in 1977 at ABC and eventually a few years later replaced Howard Cosell on boxing. We all remember Howard as the man who used to tell it like it is, or at least contended that he told it like it was. But it was a wonderful time to be a part of the boxing world. So many great championship fights during those years.
I got to cover fights in Dublin, London, Paris, Caracas, Venezuela, Port of Spain, Trinidad and even Havana. Some very fond memories.
And I happened to be part of a fight in April of 1985 in the parking lot at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and of all the great events I’ve had the opportunity to cover, this one ranks right up near the top.
It was Marvelous Marvin Hagler against Tommy Hearns, and as Sports Illustrated said on its cover the following week, “Eight minutes of fury.” The first round, in the minds of many longtime observers, was the round of the century. I’ll never forget it and I’ll never forget how jazzed I was and how jazzed the crowd was and just the electric feeling that you can only get at a great championship fight.
So boxing has always had a special place in my heart. It’s the mano a mano aspect of it, and it’s wonderful to be back in the boxing business. I am looking very much forward to being a part of our prime time coverage of boxing on NBC.
JON MILLER: Thanks, Al. Now while we’ll introduce our complete talent team, including our blow‑by‑blow announcer in the coming weeks, I’m excited to announce that Sugar Ray Leonard will be the lead analyst for our boxing shows. Sugar Ray, welcome to the team and the floor is yours.
SUGAR RAY LEONARD: This is great. Awesome. I want to say kudos to PBC on NBC series. I’m like an old‑school guy. My amateur fights were on network television, prime time – the Golden Gloves, the AAU, the Pan American Games, and Olympics.
It’s been an honor to be a part of boxing for 50 years. I’ve always made connections, as I travel the world, meeting people who were such advocates, supporters and fans of boxing. Many years ago I met Senator John McCain, and we talked the whole time on our trip to DC. He has been indeed an advocate in Congress of fighter safety and legislation that enhances the integrity of the sport.
Senator John McCain could not be with us here today but released this statement:
“Boxing fans everywhere should welcome efforts such as the initiative announced today that are aimed at restoring the popularity and dignity of this great sport.
As a long‑time fan and one‑time competitor in the sweet science, it’s been always important to me that boxing reflects the principle of integrity and adhere to the standards expected of professional sports.
I’m hopeful that these efforts announced today will improve the quality of the sport, the safety of these great athletes, and the outlook for the future of boxing for fans everywhere.”
LIAM MCHUGH: From a man who is an artist inside the ring to a man who is an artist outside of the ring. Pleased to have with us today award‑winning composer Hans Zimmer.
Hans Zimmer has composed music for more than 150 films, including Interstellar, Gladiator, The Last Samurai, The Dark Night and 12 Years a Slave. You might remember the music from The Crimson Tide, those are just a few of a long list. Hans is also a lifelong boxing fan. We are honored that he’s written a new musical score for the PBC series which will premiere on our first bout on March 7th.
Here’s a quick video of Hans’s work on this great new PBS theme score.
HANS ZIMMER (on video): I grew up knowing who Ali was; I knew who the great fighters were. There was a great tradition of that.
They were our heroes when we were kids. And slowly I moved out of our focus, and I thought I wanted to be able to tell those stories again.
I wanted to go and write music that honored them. My name is Hans Zimmer. I’m a film composer. I have done things like Gladiator, The Rock, Lion King, Batman, Last Samurai.
If you look at my list you can see that I probably don’t get out much, but that’s my life. I love doing music, wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
I just think that’s a sound when the fist connects. No drama can do that. I’m not using drama. I’m using fists hitting flesh. What we want to do is create an experience where the audience feels what that’s like. Heroism, not necessarily happy. There has to be tragedy in it. There has to be an epic journey.
The music is going to drive the emotion unlike we’ve ever seen in the sport of boxing; and we, along with the fans, eagerly await the sound of the opening bell.
LIAM MCHUGH: Hans, you want to create an experience. You want to drive emotion. The sport of boxing, emotionally, what does it mean to you?
HANS ZIMMER: Well, I grew up in Europe, and in a way, boxers were the ambassadors. It was a worldwide sport. It was something that was watched in every country. But part of what I wanted to do, I just wanted to write some music that was going to honor these men as people, as individuals. I wanted to get at the story sort of behind what happens in the ring. It’s really about honoring heroes.
When I was doing Gladiator and The Last Samurai, I was inching in that direction already. But it’s just ‑‑ for me just really important that the world embraces these men, these humans, these characters in a great way.
LIAM MCHUGH: We’re thrilled you’re here. This is the type of music that definitely stirs emotions.
LIAM MCHUGH: The PBC series is created for television by Haymon Boxing Management. I’d like to introduce Lamont Jones, Vice President of Operations for Haymon Boxing Management.
LAMONT JONES: It’s exciting news that NBC is broadcasting the Premier Boxing Champions series, bringing elite professional boxing to millions of sports fans on two television networks in prime time. Today’s terrific young fighters deserve a wider audience and broader exposure.
The PBC series will feature technology and protocols that set heightened standards of excellence with respect to fighter safety, the integrity of competition, and the quality of the viewing experience.
With the support of the United States Anti‑Doping Agency, each boxer who competes in a PBC bout will be subjected to rigorous Olympic‑style random drug testing.
With the involvement of the Cleveland Clinic, each boxer who competes in a PBC bout will benefit from evaluations by staff physicians from the clinic. And the PBC series will support the clinic’s important Professional Fighter’s Brain Health Study.
We’re so pleased that Nelson Wittenmyer, Vice Chairman of the Clinic’s Philanthropic Institute, has joined us here today.
In addition to protocols that enhance fighter safety, there will be improvements for the fans as well. With advancements relating to lighting, camera work, the Hans Zimmer music score and other enhancements to be revealed, the PBC series will bring fans inside the ring for an immersive, innovative viewing experience.
And fans will be glad to know that they can look forward to regular competition at the highest levels on a regular basis because elite fighters will compete in the PBC series three to four times a year, giving fans more opportunity to get more familiar with their favorite fighters.
We are confident that the excellence of the fighters, the compelling stories of their individual journeys and the quality of the PBC series fights will captivate the imagination of the public in a way we hope pays homage to great legends like Roberto “Los Manos De Piedra” Duran, Tommy “Hitman” Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard, who gave us such epic fights during what was perhaps boxing’s most recent golden age.
So now let’s get to the really special part of this terrific event: The fighters and the fight announcements.
LIAM MCHUGH: Compelling, I think that’s a word you’ll hear a lot. We have some compelling matchups we’re excited to announce as Lamont said. PBC on NBC, exciting boxing. Exciting matches.
So it’s the reason you’re here. Let’s get right to it. We are proud to announce two co‑main events for our Saturday, March 7th, prime time debut of the PBC on NBC.
The co‑main event, we feature Keith “One Time” Thurman versus Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero. Tampa’s Keith Thurman is widely regarded as an explosive puncher, coming in with a sterling record of 24 wins, no losses, 21 big knockouts.
His opponent, from Gilroy, California, Robert Guerrero, four‑time world champion, with a record of 32 wins against two losses, one draw and 18 knockouts.
At this time I’d like to invite Robert Guerrero to the ring.
Keith Thurman as well.
Neither one of these fighters really knows what it’s like to take a step backwards. It should be an amazing matchup. Gentlemen, thank you so much and good luck.
The other co‑main event features Adrien “The Problem” Broner versus John “The Gladiator” Molina, Jr. Cincinnati’s Adrien Broner is a brilliant ring tactician, who has exerted his dominance at lightweights, proven his mettle at junior welterweight as well as welterweight. He has a sparkling record of 29 wins, one loss, 22 knockouts.
John Molina, Jr. from Los Angeles, California, a dangerous knockout artist with a record of 27 wins, five losses with 22 knockouts.
Molina, Jr. was involved in what many people consider the 2014 Fight of the Year against Lucas Matthysse.
Right now, let’s welcome John Molina, Jr. up to the ring.
And now Adrien Broner. He’s excited, we’re excited to put these two fighters toe to toe. We expect fireworks. Gentlemen, thank you so much, good luck.
Additionally, today, we are excited to announce the main event for our second prime time fight on April 11th, Danny “Swift” Garcia against Lamont “Havoc” Peterson.
Philadelphia’s own Danny Garcia is the consensus best 140‑pounder fighter in the world. Record of 29 wins, 17 knockouts, no losses. Cut from the mold of great Philadelphia fighters, Garcia is a perfect blend of power, skill and speed.
Going against him is Lamont Peterson. Peterson hails from Washington, DC, an elite boxer‑puncher with a record of 33 wins, two losses and just one draw. He has a combination of punching power and boxing skill. Welcome Lamont Peterson up to our NBC Sports ring.
And his opponent, Danny Garcia.
There is some serious anticipation. In fact, this fight is considered by many to be among the most anticipated matches in all of boxing. Guys, thanks so much. Good luck to you.
And at this point, I want to invite Tommy “Hitman” Hearns and Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran to the stage along with Sugar Ray Leonard. Let’s have all the boxing legends, guys you can stay up here, too, and all of our fighters. Boxing legends and current boxers, for a photo op.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for coming here. That concludes our press event. Everyone, though, will be available for one‑on‑one interviews. Thank you so much.
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