There was a time when boxing fans stood in line, buying a ticket to their local movie theater rich with the latest silent fare, to see just a bit of a major fight that had happened sometimes weeks before…

…a time when fans leaned their ear toward the family radio to hear Don Dunphy describe the live exploits of Joe Louis and Henry Armstrong…

…a time when Howard Cossell and Muhammad Ali enthralled the masses on Wide World of Sports…

…a time when USA Tuesday Night Fights gave a platform to the senior acts of Larry Holmes and George Foreman and provided the best of the formative years of Roy Jones Jr…

…a time when HBO delivered the biggest upset in the history of boxing, leaving those who missed Mike Tyson’s loss to Buster Douglas assuming those who didn’t were playing a prank…

…a time when Showtime was home to the greatest fight of the twenty-first century, and maybe the greatest lightweight title fight ever filmed, as Diego Corrales got up off the deck twice to stop Jose Luis Castillo. 

Times change.

The time for Showtime, as reported this week at BoxingScene and numerous other media outlets, as one of boxing’s central broadcasters is up. When Jimmy Lennon Jr. steps to center ring for however many more years he has in him, it won’t be “Showtime” after the end of this year.

For at least two generations of boxing fans, this latest conclusion can’t help but be jarring. Boxing has always adapted to new media, transitioning from radio to broadcast television to cable. Streaming options have grown in recent years with many consumers opting for a set of subscriptions rather than any traditional television at all.

The difference from previous transitions is the sense of finality here. When Jose Luis Castillo upset Stevie Johnston in the last ABC afternoon boxing broadcast of its time, there was no fanfare or announced exit. Like NBC and CBS, they just stopped airing a sport fans had already largely grown accustomed to watching elsewhere. There was no fanfare or chance to process what was lost.

It was just gone.

The end of the premium cable era has been explicit and sudden.

HBO closed its relationship with the sport on the heels of a last hurrah on pay-per-view with Saul Alvarez-Gennadiy Golovkin II. Showtime will exit coming off one of its most critically acclaimed years of the last decade, combining several pay-per-view offerings and some solid network action as well. 

It will just be gone too but this time it comes with a countdown clock.

Showtime’s contribution to the sport since arriving with the Marvin Hagler-John Mugabi card in 1986 has been massive. While HBO often had the deeper bench, Showtime was the home for a significant part of the 1990s to the two biggest draws in the sport, Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez, and later the career ending run of Floyd Mayweather. The “Bite Fight” and the heist of Pernell Whitaker at the Alamodome? Showtime.

Evander Holyfield completing the unification of the cruiserweight title and capturing his first heavyweight title from Douglas; Nigel Benn-Gerald McClellan; the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez epics; the first big spotlight for lighter weight fighters like Ricardo Lopez, Mark Johnson, Vic Darchinyan, and Nonito Donaire; the Super Six super middleweight tournament? Showtime.

ESPN and ESPN+ remain involved in boxing, so more traditional television names remain in the game. ESPN has had boxing in some form for most of its existence and likely always will. DAZN may expand its footprint. A new player like Amazon could always get in the game. The PBC will find, likely already has found, a new platform without Showtime. Any outfit with Alvarez, Tank Davis, and Terence Crawford under their umbrella is going to be just fine. 

And fans will adapt. They already have. Those who pretended clicking an app was too difficult during some of the comical social media squabbles in recent years were already clicking them anyways and now won’t have to pretend anymore.       

In boxing, what we have today is always colored by the question that never goes away: what’s next? Today’s big fight is always a prelude to the next big fight. Over the next few months, there will be plenty of laments about the change at hand, but it will last just long enough to figure out where to watch whatever big fights we will have to talk about in 2024. 

Boxing will move on. Maybe it comes out better in the long run. Maybe not. 

But whatever it will be, what’s next won’t be on Showtime anymore. 

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