A poster for the June 18 Top Rank fight between Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith, Jr.

In addition to actual fights, ESPN’s long-running partnership with Top Rank continues to lead to some notable shoulder programming. Top Rank has been doing the Blood, Sweat & Tears series of  documentaries from fighters’ camps ahead of big fights for the last year-plus, and many of those have been carried on ESPN’s networks. That will again be the case for Blood, Sweat & Tears: Beterbiev vs. Smith, Jr., half-hour specials that will premiere on Sunday, June 5, at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPNEWS and Sunday, June 12, at 1:30 a.m. ET on ESPN2 ahead of the Artur Beterbiev-Joe Smith, Jr. light heavyweight title unification fight on June 18 on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+.

Both of those specials will re-air several times after their premiere on ESPN2 and ESPNEWS. They’ll also be available on demand on the ESPN app and ESPN.com. Here’s more on what to expect from the specials and from that fight itself, from an ESPN release:

Blood, Sweat & Tears: Beterbiev vs. Smith, Jr.,  is a two-part series that goes inside the fight camps of WBC/IBF light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs) and WBO light heavyweight champion Joe Smith, Jr. (28-3, 22 KOs) ahead of their title unification bout Saturday, June 18, from the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. 

…Beterbiev is boxing’s only active world champion in any weight division with a perfect 100% knockout rate, and Long Island’s own Joe Smith, Jr., is a construction and tree-service laborer by day and world champion knockout artist by night. This high-stakes fight promises to feature plenty of action between two of the sport’s most dangerous punchers.

In addition to the Beterbiev-Smith, Jr. main event, the telecast includes a 10-round featherweight co-feature between Robeisy Ramirez (9-1, 5 Kos) and Abraham Nova (21-0, 15 KOs).

Beterbiev-Smith, Jr., and Ramirez-Nova will air live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT. The undercard will stream exclusively on ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT.

It makes some sense for ESPN to continue to spotlight this kind of shoulder programming ahead of notable fights. These kinds of documentaries from camps certainly can add to the pre-fight hype, and they can help introduce fighters to those less familiar with them. It’s smart that they’re making these available on-demand as well for those not tuned into to ESPN2 or ESPNEWS at the particular points these air. We’ll see how the Beterbiev-Smith, Jr. fight does for ESPN.

[ESPN Press Room]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.