A big deal with the broadcaster was signed back in September that will afford over $60million a year to fund fights as Haymon battles a competitive market that features veteran Bob Arum on ESPN and Eddie Hearn with DAZN.
Premier Boxing Champions, who also have dates on Showtime, last night announced 23 dates (10 of which have confirmed fights) including a pay-per-view clash between Mikey Garcia and Errol Spence.
One particular match-up, however, came in for criticism.
On Saturday February 16th Leo Santa Cruz will defend his WBA featherweight title versus Miguel Flores at a to-be-confirmed venue in Los Angeles. The fight co-headlines a bill which also features sluggers Omar Figueroa and John Molina.
It will be the former Frampton foe’s third defence of his belt since reclaiming the strap from ‘The Jackal’ in Las Vegas last year. However, especially considering that Flores was previously defeated by Santa Cruz’s first defence, Chris Avalos, most have not taken too kindly to the match-up.
The fight will be a first World Title contest for 26-year-old Flores [23(11)-2(2)] who has fought just once in 2018 – a second-stoppage win over journeyman Raul Chirino in a six-round fight.
In 2017, the Houston-based fighter fought and was beaten twice. There was the fifth-round retirement loss to Avalos due to cuts – a contest in which he was admittedly up on the cards in – as well as a sixth-round knockout loss to Vietnamese puncher Dat Nguyen, himself a formerly mooted underwhelming Santa Cruz opponent.
The Santa-Cruz match-up was widely described as the weakest fight on the PBC schedule and this disappointment seems to have been amplified due to previous speculation that the Mexican may fight in a unification with WBC champ Gary Russell Jr on the Deontay Wider v Tyson Fury card next month.
Boxing writers and media types slammed the match-up:
The fact that Leo Santa Cruz is fighting Miguel Flores and not Gary Russell Jr is shambolic. There is absolutely no reason why that fight can’t happen. No barriers whatsoever for them negotiations. It’s a perfect fight. Just horrible.
— Cameron Gillon (@CameronGillon_) November 13, 2018
The only rancid fight of those about to be announced today is Santa Cruz-Flores. That’s a waste.
Thurman-Lopez I understand. Keith needs his sacrificial lamb for his comeback. Now should he be headlining? That’s another question, and it’s not something that’s a concern of mine.
— adam abramowitz (@snboxing) November 13, 2018
February 16 #PBConFox – Los Angeles, Calif.
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Miguel Flores (worst matchup of the batch)
John Molina Jr. vs. Omar Figueroa (I actually love this matchup)
— Jake Donován (@JakeNDaBox) November 13, 2018
I didn’t want to see the Gary Russell Jr unification in December
What’s much better is a warm-up versus Flores who was beaten by Avalos who you took as a warm-up for a rematch with Mares that nobody wanted
What a way to spend two years!
Mares trilogy fight October 2019? pic.twitter.com/pzKhuHm2dr
— Joe O’Neill (@J0E_90) November 14, 2018
Santa Cruz-Flores is a garbage fight. Flores got knocked out by Avalos, who also happened to be a tune-up opponent for Santa Cruz a year ago — he was also knocked out #boxing
— Ryan O’Hara (@OHaraSports) November 13, 2018
Is there a single boxing fan that cares about Leo Santa Cruz vs. Miguel Flores?
— Zuffa Boxing Fanpage (@BoxrecGrey) November 13, 2018
Any reason why Gary Russell Jr isn’t fighting Leo Santa Cruz at the top of the year? Hasn’t it been 8-10 months yet without a fight? #boxing
— Raging Babe (@RagingBabe) November 13, 2018
Three of the first four PBC on FOX main events of 2019 are lopsided title fights – Thurman tune-up vs. Lopez, Santa Cruz against Miguel Flores for some reason, and Danny Garcia vs. Adrian Granados.
$60 million poorly spent by FOX. PBC out here swindling.https://t.co/q6G7gWz74E
— Mookie Alexander (@mookiealexander) November 13, 2018