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HBO to stop programming live boxing matches

Mike Tyson, right, delivers a powerful blow to

Mike Tyson, right, delivers a powerful blow to Trevor Berbick in the second round in Las Vegas on Nov. 22, 1986. Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS/Douglas C. Pizac

HBO, long boxing's most visible television home, announced on Thursday that it is getting out of the business of boxing after its scheduled Oct. 27 middleweight championship bout between Daniel Jacobs and Sergiy Derevyanchenko at Madison Square Garden.

In a statement, the premium cable network said it would be "pivoting away from programming live boxing," but it did not rule out the sport entirely.

HBO said it would "remain open to looking at events that fit our programming mix. This could include boxing, just not for the foreseeable future."

Unlike advertiser-supported cable networks, HBO relies more on buzz than ratings, and apparently decided that boxing no longer provides enough of it.

"Boxing has been part of our heritage for decades," its statement said. "During that time, the sport has undergone a transformation.  It is now widely available on a host of networks and streaming services.  There is more boxing than ever being televised and distributed.  In some cases, this programming is very good.  But from an entertainment point of view, it's not unique."

Showtime, HBO's premium cable competitor in boxing coverage, plans to continue carrying the sport. But as HBO indicated, more and more digital options for boxing fans are sprouting up, including the likes of DAZN and ESPN+.

HBO's first boxing telecast dates to Jan. 22, 1973, when George Foreman knocked out then-heavyweight champion Joe Frazier, and overall it has carried 1,111 fights in 45 years.

HBO's boxing history includes some of the most storied bouts of the past four-plus decades, including Buster Douglas' upset of Mike Tyson in 1990 and various fights including Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns. Roy Jones Jr. and Oscar de la Hoya each appeared 32 times on the network, more than any other boxers.      

"We're deeply indebted to the many courageous fighters whose careers we were privileged to cover," the HBO statement said. "There have been hundreds of dedicated and remarkably creative men and women who have delivered the best in television production for HBO’s coverage of boxing and we are so grateful for their contributions.  It has been a wonderful journey chronicling the careers and backstories of so many spectacularly talented prizefighters."

HBO still plans to carry sports-related programming, including documentaries such as "Hard Knocks," its series about NFL training camps.

"We are a storytelling platform," HBO Sports said in its statement. "The future will see unscripted series, long-form documentary films, reality programming, sports journalism, event specials and more unique standout content from HBO Sports."

Boxers with most appearances on HBO

Roy Jones Jr. 32

Oscar De La Hoya 32

Shane Mosley ​27

Floyd Mayweather 27

Manny Pacquiao 24

Miguel Cotto​ 24

Lennox Lewis​ 23

Bernard Hopkins​ 23

Wladimir Klitschko 22

Arturo Gatti​ 21

Pernell Whitaker 19

Marco Antonio Barrera 19

Mike Tyson 17

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