Pick It: Olympic Boxing (USA/NBCOlympics.com, Check Listings)

The first time many eyes saw Riddick Bowe, Roy Jones, Antonio Tarver, Guillermo Rigondeaux and any number of others who went on to professional success, it was at the Olympics. Even in this odd, crowdless year in Japan, big pieces of the future of the sport will be on display for the next couple weeks.

For Team USA, that means five men and four women with a few having already turned pro but getting a chance to capture medals COVID was thought perhaps to have put out of reach. Daily streams on NBC’s Olympic streaming services will be available online but for those who want to catch highlights look to the USA Network. Every afternoon, starting Saturday, between 3 and 5 PM, it appears boxing will be part of the coverage. America’s best medal hopeful might be Keyshawn Davis and he’s already considered among the next prospects in the pro sport. Enjoy the Games. 

Additional Shows to Watch For

Friday - Higgins vs. Gigliotti (YouTube, 7:00 PM EST)

A good club show can be chicken soup for the soul. If the fights are well matched, they don’t have to feature elite talent to entertain. This show will attempt to give fans the experience online with a clash of Massachusetts welterweights. 27-year old Brandon Higgins (7-1, 5 KO) lost a narrow decision in his fourth start but has won two of three by knockout since. 26-year old Harry Gigliotti (7-2, 3 KO) enters off a disqualification win with two decision losses in four round affairs. Tune in to support a boxing effort at the sport’s entry floor.  

Friday - Steen vs. Henderson (Showtime, 9:00 PM EST)

Twenty years ago, Showtime birthed a prospect centric series, ShoBox, that presented boxing the best way possible: straight up, no frills, and competitive. It was a stark contrast with HBO’s failed KO Nation, a show with some good fights but an awkward presentation that never quite worked. Friday night, ShoBox celebrates their anniversary with a clash of undefeated super middleweights in the main event. 24-year old Isaiah Steen (15-0, 12 KO) gets his first ten round start against 31-year old Kalvin Henderson (14-0-1, 10 KO). It’s all part of a tripleheader with only a single loss among the six participants. Congratulations to ShoBox and best wishes on twenty more years of great work.

Saturday - TBRB #7 Joyce vs. Takam (FITE, 2:15 PM EST)

The UK’s 35-year old Joe Joyce (12-0, 11 KO), a 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist, may not have time on his side. Even in a division where fighters can age later, 35 isn’t young. Joyce is coming off a breakthrough win over undefeated Daniel Dubois where his steadiness, chin, and heavy hands proved him a long night at the office for anyone. Joyce is now lined up with one of the stalwart veterans of recent years, 40-year old Carlos Takam (39-5-1, 28 KO). Takam is past his best but he’s also mostly lost to the better heavyweights in the world. An impressive outing for Joyce can only hope his beeline for a title shot at a time when all four major heavyweight belts belong to potential national rivals in lineal king Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. Joyce won’t be next for either but sometime after his 36th birthday, if he keeps winning, he could be an attractive foe for either. US viewers can see the fight for $12.99.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at roldboxing@hotmail.com