HBO is throwing a combination punch at fight fans for the
12-round featherweight title bout between Naseem Hamed (below),
the champion, and Augie Sanchez. Besides televising the fight
(Saturday, 9:30 p.m.), the cable channel will offer complementary
coverage on its Web site, HBO.com/boxing.
Among the better features that the site, which is produced by
Interactive Video Technologies (IVT) with HBO, will offer: Users
choose audio from either of the fighter's corners as well as
selecting various punch statistics; analysis by former Golden
Gloves female flyweight champ Anne Giotelli, who is a judge for
USA Boxing; and a chance for the viewer to score the fight and
compare his card with that of HBO's unofficial ringside judge,
Harold Lederman, on a round-by-round basis. "We don't want to
cannibalize the core audience," says IVT executive vice president
Douglas Warshaw. "We want fans to be as involved in the bout as
they want to be."
HBO didn't land the first punch in the on-line pugilism battle.
Showtime, using its site Sho.com/scboxing, has gone interactive
in past bouts, although to a lesser degree. "We had Evander
Holyfield doing live chats during the Mike Tyson-Lou Savarese
bout," says Showtime spokesman Jason Oberlander, "and we gave
viewers a choice of five camera angles for the Tyson-Orlin Norris
Is more coverage better? "When I watch a fight," says Doug
Fischer, cofounder of House of Boxing, "I just want to watch the
fight. Never mind the computer." Then again, since Fischer runs
boxing's premier Web site, chances are his company may follow
HBO's and Showtime's lead, as soon as it finds a boxing channel
to partner with.