NEW YORK – HBO is walking away from professional boxing after 45 years of live fight programming, the U.S. cable network confirmed Thursday.
HBO’s long association with the sport began in 1973 when it carried George Foreman’s stunning knockout of reigning heavyweight world champion Joe Frazier.
The network pioneered modern pay-per-view coverage of boxing. The fighters who have appeared in more than 1,000 bouts aired by HBO include a who’s who of the sport’s biggest names, most recently including the highly-anticipated rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin for the unified middleweight title.
“Going forward into 2019, we will be pivoting away from programming live boxing on HBO,” HBO Sports said in a statement. “As always, we will remain open to looking at events that fit our programming mix. This could include boxing, just not for the foreseeable future.”
HBO Sports noted in its statement that boxing is now available on a “host of networks and streaming services.”
“In some cases, this programming is very good. But from an entertainment point of view, it’s not unique,” the company said, adding that it wants to focus on “storytelling” suited to unscripted series, documentaries, reality programming, sports journalism and event specials.