By Tom Donelson
Updated: April 20, 2005

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Everyone is excited about ESPN PPV event and why not? There are some exciting fights and the match ups on paper appear competitive. And these fights cost the consumer $30, which is not cheap but certainly less expensive charged for many less desirable bouts in the past.

The issue for me is not whether ESPN does PPV but how ESPN follows up their fine boxing programs with coverage beyond the ring. Friday Night Fights is one of the boxing best shows.

ESPN has often presented some intriguing match ups and Teddy Atlas is not afraid to state the truth as he sees it. He does not coddle the audience and if a fight stinks, he tells you.

The problem with ESPN is not their Friday night coverage but their coverage or the lack thereof after the fights. ESPN do their Friday Nights fights and the rest of the network ignore the fights.

No replays or even mention of the results on SportsCenter. SportsCenter doesn’t even acknowledge the sport.

It is not as if Boxing is not a sport. It is. Boxing has many problems, but it has produced some of Sports greatest moments. The first Ali-Frazier was one of Sports watershed moments that transcended the sport and has to be one of Sports top five events of the 20th century. (Another moment would have to include the second Louis-Schmeling.)

It is not enough to just televise the event. ESPN has to report on the events. ESPN is not just any station, but advertises itself as the complete sports station. Complete sport network means covering boxing.

Somehow, I have to imagine showing a knock out or two would actually enhance SportsCenter. And this would take 30 seconds or even a minute. Maybe ESPN might even have a weekly program similar following boxing.

ESPN is now entering the PPV picture and as the sports leading network, it is in position to help boxing. From this point, ESPN can no longer ignore boxing in its coverage on Sports Center.

It is a major sport that has span generations and the only sport that can match its illustrated history is baseball. Al Bernstein quipped what makes the sport are the warriors inside the ring. For over a century, thousands of men and women have stepped in the ring and provided some of sports grand moments.

Even today, boxing provides drama unmatched in other sports. ESPN can more than just cover those events; it can tell the story.