A notable thing with many recent boxing matches is not just what platform will air the actual fight, but what platform will air content leading up to that fight. In the case of the April 30 Óscar Valdez-Shakur Stevenson fight from Las Vegas, ESPN is going to provide a lot of pre-fight content. Here’s more from an ESPN release:
Blood, Sweat & Tears: Valdez vs. Stevenson is a two-part series that goes inside the fight camps of WBC junior lightweight world champion (and two-time Mexican Olympian) Óscar Valdez (30-0, 23 KO) and WBO junior lightweight world champion (and U.S. Olympic silver medalist) Shakur Stevenson (17-0, 9 KO) ahead of their winner-take-all title unification bout Saturday, April 30, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The two half-hour specials debut Sunday, April 17, at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and Sunday, April 24, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNEWS, respectively. Both shows will reair multiple times on ESPN2 leading up to the much-anticipated fight. They will also be available after their initial airing on-demand on the ESPN App and ESPN.com.
Two of boxing’s brightest young stars — undefeated and already two-division world champions — Valdez and Stevenson go toe-to-toe in one of 2022’s most anticipated showdowns. In addition to the Valdez-Stevenson main event, the April 30 telecast includes an eight-round lightweight co-feature between U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis (4-0, 3 KOs) and Esteban Sanchez (18-1, 8 KOs). In a special feature, Nico Ali Walsh (4-0, 3 KOs), grandson of “The Greatest,” will battle Alejandro Ibarra (7-1, 2 KOs) in a four-round middleweight clash. Valdez-Stevenson, Davis-Sanchez, and Ali Walsh-Ibarra 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 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
It’s certainly notable to see ESPN interjecting some documentary specials ahead of a fight on their networks. And there’s some logic to that. Yes, Valdez-Stevenson would draw a significant audience even without this kind of promotion, but these specials should help bolster it further. And this is also some good content for ESPN2 and ESPNEWS respectively. We’ll see how much of an audience these specials draw, but there’s definitely some logic to this approach.