HBO “Old Yeller’s” WCB

By William Trillo

As defined by : Old Yeller
To put something out of its misery. As in the ending of the Disney film Old Yeller, where the young boy puts a bullet between the eyes of his beloved pooch who’s gone rabid or old or something.

On a cold and dreary evening in Carson, California HBO unmercifully brought a grinding halt to its World Championship Boxing series. The venue was as empty as I have ever seen it and the few fans that were in attendance groaned, cat called and booed throughout the entire show. Whoever the dude was that was doing the Donkey in distress impersonation should be commended for his efforts. He alone kept the crowd entertained.

Sadly, that was not the sendoff HBO WCB deserved.

The boxing series began in 1973 with George Foreman’s two round destruction of Joe Frazier in Kingston, Jamaica and over the course of some 40 plus years HBO WCB brought us extravaganzas like Ali vs. Foreman, Holmes vs. Cooney, Pryor vs. Arguello, Hagler vs. Hearns and the list goes on and on and on.

From Watergate to Russiagate HBO WCB had been there to help us get away from the world’s problems. Even if it was only a couple of hours a month of viewing time boxing fans across the nation relished every moment. Like the hound dog sitting next to us as we reclined, HBO WCB became boxing fans best friend.

In 1996 HBO premiered Boxing After Dark (BAD). The first fight that aired was Marco Antonio Barrera vs. Kennedy McKinney. The fight was a barnburner and from that point on HBO BAD became a staple for boxing fans who wanted to see the new up and comers. It was all but a guarantee these fights were going to be thrillers.

Coincidentally HBO’s last show was Boxing After Dark, but unlike its reputation, this show failed to live up to the standard, in fact it didn’t come close.

The triple header featured two women’s fights along with a battle of the little men. In each and every case it was a contest of World Class talent vs. Ham-n-Eggers. It was not a good night of entertainment to say the very least.

To quickly recap the fights went as follows:

Cecilia Braekhus (35-0, 9 KO’s) decisioned Aleksandra-Madgziak-Lopes, (18-5-3, 1 KO)over 10 rounds. Scores 100-90, 100-90, 99-91.

Juan Francisco Estrada, (38-3-0, 26 KO’s) made Victor Mendez, (28-4-2, 20 KOs) quit on his stool in 7.

Claressa Shields, (8-0, 2 KO’s) decisioned Femke Hermans, (9-2, 3 KO’s) over 10 rounds.
Scores were 100-90 on all three scorecards.

I’d like to give you the highlights, but there were none.

Look, I understand that boxing has gone through a rough patch in recent times and I am also aware that at times the HBO broadcasts were lacking. It’s also no secret that the new regimes over at the network are not that fond of boxing. It was just as clear they were not interested in trying to fix or revamp the product that had gone rabid or old or something, but instead they seemed content to take the old dog out back and put a slug in it.

Personally I find it appalling that anyone at HBO could stand by and watch the child they once nurtured and became proud of get so embarrassingly and unceremoniously euthanized.

The arena was empty, it was cold and lifeless and most fans in the house had no clue who the fighters were.

Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, Larry Merchant, Roy Jones, Harold Lederman along with others gave their “Heart and Soul” to the fans and the sport. They all deserved to be treated better in the end.

“Heart and Soul”

Hey HBO… do you remember that used to be your slogan for HBO WCB?

Apparently not!

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