SHO SPORTS CELEBRATES 30 YEARS OF BOXING LEGENDS IN MARCH WITH CLASSICS FROM LEONARD, HAGLER, HEARNS, TRINIDAD & MORE‏

NEW YORK – SHOWTIME Sports rolls out its third installment of a year-long salute commemorating 30 years of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING in March with “Legends’’.

This month will be highlighted by legends Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Felix Trinidad, Ricardo “Finito” Lopez and George Foreman. Seven of the most unforgettable and important fights from these legends – some of which have seldom been re-aired since their live presentation – are available now on the network’s on demand platforms and will air will air on “Throwback Thursdays” in March at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME.

The Thursday, March 10 presentation of Marvin Hagler vs. John Mugabi airs exactly 30 years after the final win of Hagler’s Hall of Fame career on March 10, 1986. Hagler vs. Mugabi was the first main event to ever air on SHOWTIME®.

The classic fights, which are also are available on SHOWTIME ON DEMAND®, SHOWTIME ANYTIME® and via the network’s standalone streaming service, will be wrapped with brief context and commentary from SHOWTIME Sports host Brian Custer.

Below is the schedule of SHO EXTREME premieres for the month of March:

Tomorrow, Thursday, March 3: Terry Norris vs. Sugar Ray Leonard
Thursday, March 10: Marvin Hagler vs. John Mugabi
Thursday, March 17: Felix Trinidad vs. David Reid
Thursday, March 24: Ricardo Lopez vs. Rosendo Alvarez II
Thursday, March 31: Iran Barkley vs. Thomas Hearns I, George Foreman vs. Gerry Cooney (10:15 p.m. ET/PT), Gerald McClellan vs. Julian Jackson I (10:30 p.m. ET/PT)

In celebration of the best rivalries on SHOWTIME, see below for a special column from SHOWTIME Sports expert analyst and boxing historian Steve Farhood.

LEGENDS

By Steve Farhood

Boxing without legends would be like religion without saints.

There’s no formula for a fighter to advance from star to superstar to legend. The process depends on timing, circumstance, and sometimes as little as a point or two on the judges’ cards.

And oh, yeah: It helps if a guy can really fight.

As we celebrate 30 years of boxing on SHOWTIME, we’re focusing on a different theme each month. Throughout March, the theme will be Legends.

In the 130 years from John L. Sullivan to Floyd Mayweather, boxing has given us what other sports can’t provide. Consider:

The Associated Press voted Luis Firpo’s knockdown of Jack Dempsey as the greatest sports moment of the first half of the 20th Century.
The Frazier-Ali “Fight Of The Century” in 1971 was easily the most anticipated sporting event in history.
Last year’s Mayweather-Pacquiao fight generated more than half-a-billion dollars — in one night!

Legends are made by big moments … and how they respond to those moments.

On SHOWTIME, we’ve featured three decades worth of legends. Here’s a look at those who will share the spotlight in March.

MARVIN HAGLER: Since Vince Lombardi didn’t exactly say, “Timing isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” Hagler should’ve said it.

Hagler was a great fighter long before he was a superstar, but it wasn’t until he fought Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns, and Sugar Ray Leonard (three of Hagler’s last six bouts) that Marvin became Marvelous.

Hagler’s one appearance on SHOWTIME, which happened to be the first bout televised on the network (March 1986), was the final win of his career. Undefeated over 10 years, Hagler had established himself as one of the greatest middleweights in history. And while it could be argued in hindsight that at age 31, the ultimate blue-collar fighter was slightly past his prime, much of what made Hagler special was on display during his savage defense against his unbeaten and ferocious challenger, John Mugabi.

Almost three decades after his retirement, Hagler remains the middleweight today’s 160-pounders are measured against.

SUGAR RAY LEONARD: If Hagler bloomed late, Leonard was a superstar before he threw a single punch as a professional.

Back in the mid-‘70s, that’s what a magnetic smile, an Olympic gold medal, and repeated exposure on prime time television could do for a young fighter.

It’s ironic that Leonard was initially viewed by some as a coddled creation of the media. In fact, he was as tough as any fighter of the star-studded early-‘80s. Better yet, he remains the best fighter I’ve covered in 38 years on the boxing beat.

Leonard’s appearance on SHOWTIME was the penultimate bout of his career. In electing to end yet another lengthy layoff, Sugar Ray, 34, chose outstanding 23-year-old super welterweight titlist Terry Norris as his opponent. Leonard dropped from 160 to 154 pounds and fought at Madison Square Garden for the first time.

The bout served as a reminder that at least in a pre-Bernard Hopkins world, boxing was very much a young man’s game.

FELIX TRINIDAD: There are only three Hispanic fighters who became superstars in the USA without speaking English. The first was Panama’s Roberto Duran. The second was Mexico’s Julio Cesar Chavez.

The third was Puerto Rico’s Trinidad.

Trinidad’s motto might as well have been, “If you can’t be from America, then beat America.”

A classic puncher with a boy scout’s smile and a fan-friendly personality, Trinidad made his name by defeating four U.S. Olympians, Pernell Whitaker, Oscar De La Hoya (albeit by a terrible decision), David Reid, and Fernando Vargas.

Moreover, Whitaker, De La Hoya, and Reid had all been gold medalists.

The fight we’ll feature on March 17 on SHO EXTREME, Trinidad vs. Reid, was Trinidad’s 14th and final appearance on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and SHOWTIME pay-per-view.

From his welterweight title-winning kayo of Maurice Blocker in 1993 through his defense against Mahenge Zulu in 1998, 13 of Trinidad’s 14 bouts were aired on SHOWTIME. Twelve of those fights were knockout wins.

Where Trinidad ranks with Wilfredo Gomez, Miguel Cotto, Carlos Ortiz, Wilfred Benitez, and the rest of the legends from Puerto Rico is debatable. What is inarguable is that “Tito” generated as much excitement as any fighter of his era.

RICARDO LOPEZ: What’s smaller: the chance that a strawweight (105 pounds) becomes an American television star or the fighter himself?

There’s never been an American world champion at strawweight (or minimumweight). We just don’t grow fighters that size. In fact, until the emergence of Mexico’s Lopez in the early-’90s, most American boxing fans couldn’t have identified a single strawweight if armed with a map of the world and a set of WBC ratings.

Lopez was so complete, so dominant, so technically perfect, that from 1994 to ’99, he was a staple of SHOWTIME’s boxing programming. He fought 13 consecutive bouts on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING or SHOWTIME Pay-Per-View, and the first 11 of those contests were defenses of the strawweight title.

And if you think the little guys can’t punch, well, there were some one-punch kayos sprinkled in.

Lopez, who retired with a mark of 51-0-1, is universally acknowledged as an all-time great. Too bad he never fought America’s Michael Carbajal at light flyweight. Had he won that bout, he’d likely be acknowledged as one of the two or three greatest Mexican fighters ever.
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Which is saying a lot for a fighter who never faced an opponent recognized by the American viewing public.