Women headline HBO’s last show
CARSON, Los Angeles County — Although HBO has decided to put boxing in its past, the network is leaving the sport by showcasing a possible vision of its future.
Cecilia Braekhus was in the first women’s boxing match on HBO, and the dominant Norwegian champion will be in the main event of HBO’s final boxing show Saturday night (7:20 p.m.) when she defends her welterweight titles against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes.
On the undercard, two-time Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields defends her middleweight belts against Femke Hermans.
Any discussion of the world’s top female fighters must include Braekhus (34-0, nine KOs) and Shields (7-0, two KOs). With women’s boxing on a distinct rise over the past two years, HBO is closing out its 45-year history as a driving force in boxing with a showcase for two fighters atop the sport’s next wave.
“It’s an honor to be in this position right now,” Braekhus said. “It’s truly a validation for the great year it’s been for women’s boxing all over the world, and how strong the future is. We have come a long way in the sport, and I believe there are even more opportunities to come our way.”
Super flyweight Juan Francisco Estrada also fights Victor Mendez in a matchup of childhood acquaintances from Sonora, Mexico, but this show is being carried by women — including Australian atomweight champ Louisa Hawton, who fights Lorraine Villalobos on the undercard at Stub Hub Center.
The mere idea of an HBO boxing show dominated by women’s champions would have been improbable just two years ago. After Shields’ dominant run to a second straight gold medal at the Rio Olympics, U.S. boxing purveyors finally began to grasp the fact that women’s boxing was a fertile area for growth.
The event should be bittersweet for many boxing fans accustomed to HBO’s presence in the sport. Longtime HBO commentator Jim Lampley will sign off from the network for which he has worked since 1988 along with Max Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr.
But for one last night, HBO will showcase rising talent on its distinct platform.
Norway’s Cecilia Braekhus (left) and Claressa Shields (right) will each defend titles on HBO’s last boxing show Saturday.