Top Rank partners with truTV to showcase new Friday night boxing series

March 30, 2015

The sport of boxing has been enjoying a resurgence in 2015 that could last long after superstars Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao retire.  The reason?  A significant increase in television coverage that could potentially bring an entire new generation of fans to the sweet science.

This year, we have seen boxing return to free network television on CBS and NBC for the first time in years, and today another entity also has thrown its hat into broadcasting ring, as truTV and Top Rank will partner to exclusively televise a live Friday night primetime boxing series beginning Friday, May 1, at 10 p.m. ET.

The new boxing series, in association with Turner Sports and HBO Sports, will launch on the eve of the Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao pay-per-view fight with a card featuring two title bouts inside The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

The main event on Friday, May 1, will showcase Japan's Takahiro Ao (27-3-1, 16 KOs) versus Mexico's Ray Beltran (29-7-1, 17 KOs) in a 12-round bout for the vacant WBO Lightweight World Championship.

The undercard will include two undefeated fighters in action – Quebec's Mikael Zewski (26-0, 23 KOs) versus Russia's Konstantin Ponomarev (27-0, 13 KOs) – in a 10-round bout for the NABF Welterweight Championship.

In addition, the inaugural series will feature three consecutive weeks of boxing coverage in May – all airing on the evening prior to a Saturday night HBO fight event – along with a slate of five additional fights to be scheduled over the remainder of the year.  The schedule will regularly feature some of the most exciting, established young talent in boxing.

“Partnering with Turner Sports and truTV for a new and unique boxing series will further invigorate and grow the sport,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank.  “Turner Sports’ innovative approach to production and programming has attracted and engaged tens of millions of fans of the NBA, MLB, NCAA and PGA and we believe the same will be true for boxing.  Additionally, the collaboration between the HBO and truTV programming will help develop and expose current and future champions and world-rated contenders to a broad audience with consistency.”

Ao (27-3-1, 12 KOs) has won titles at featherweight and super featherweight, and has been 4-0 (2 KOs) since campaigning as a lightweight, including a 10-round unanimous decision victory over former two-time world champion Juan Carlos Salgado last October. He is currently rated No. 2 by the WBO, No. 3 by the WBA, and No. 4 by the WBC.

Beltran (29-7-1, 17 KOs) is an experienced fighter who recently lost a unanimous decision to WBO lightweight champion and 2014 Fighter of the Year Terence Crawford last November.  Beltran has had the benefit of being a main sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao for several years and is currently rated No. 6 by the WBO.

Zewski (26-0, 20 KOs) has won five of his last six bouts by knockout, and is currently rated No. 7 by the WBO and No. 10 by the WBC.

Ponomarev (27-0, 13 KOs) is trained by Abel Sanchez, and at the age of 22, is already a five-year pro with an impressive resume.  He has power in both fists and is currently rated No. 15 by the WBC.  

By Staff of and news services

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