By Jake Donovan
With the hundreds of millions of dollars being thrown into boxing by the likes of Showtime, Fox Sports, ESPN and DAZN, stateside promoters and managers suddenly find themselves compelled to mortgage over their entire stable for the sake of securing TV dates.
Dmitriy Salita wasn’t quite ready to do that with the athletes under his Salita Promotions banner, instead opting to secure his own platform deal.
The former title contender and current rising promoter has entered a working agreement with streaming platform UFC Fight Pass. His debut with the service will come February 15 in Mulvane, Kansas, interestingly as part of a show where its main portion will air live on Showtime as part of its ShoBox: The New Generation boxing series.
“We’re very proud of the arrangement we’ve worked out with UFC Fight Pass,” Salita told BoxingScene.com. “It was done with the consulting of Mark Taffet and his Mark Taffet Media company, and will include our fighter, two-time Olympic Gold medalist and middleweight champion of the world Claressa Shields announcing on the first show.”
Showtime will air a live tripleheader from Kansas Star Arena later in the evening, with super bantamweights Jesse Angel Hernandez (12-1, 7KOs) and Thomas Patrick Ward (25-0, 4KOs) meeting in the main event. Also on the live telecast, Shohjahon Ergrashev (15-0, 14KOs) takes on 6’4” super lightweight Mykal Fox (19-0, 5KOs), while unbeaten super middleweight Aslambek Idigov (15-0, 7KOs) faces Calvin Metcalf (9-1-1, 2KOs).
Preceding the live Showtime action, Salita and UFC Fight Pass will present a five-fight show (7:30m ET/6:30pm local time) on the new streaming platform which entered the boxing foray with a Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions show in late January.
Local hero Nico Hernandez—whom captured a Bronze medal during the 2016 Rio Olympics—takes on Victor Trejo Garcia (16-9-1, 8KOs) in an eight-round flyweight bout in the main event of the UFC Fight Pass portion of the show. Also to be streamed:
• Unbeaten heavyweight Apti Davtaev (15-0-1) vs. Richard Carmack (15-14-1);
• Heavyweight newcomer Izim Izbaki (1-0, 1KO) vs. (0-3);
• Shobox alum Bakhtiyar Eyubov (14-0, 12KOs) vs. Jose Luis Rodriguez (25-12);
• Super flyweight Elena Savelyeva (4-1, 3KOs) vs. Akasha Adams (0-3)
As is the case with the ShoBox portion of the telecast, each bout on the undercard represents more than just the next fight in a boxer’s career—it’s also an opportunity to share their story and in-ring journey.
For example, the female super flyweight bout would be looked upon as just another undercard fight. Without the benefit of a livestream, getting lost in the shuffle would be the path that Savalyeva has traveled to this point—Friday marking her stateside debut along with fighting in her sixth country in as many pro fights.
Long before turning pro, the 34-year old Savalyeva represented Russia in the 2012 Olympics—the first year in which female boxing became an official Olympic sport. Savalyeva became the first-ever female boxer to post a win in the tournament, with her opening round flyweight bout kicking off that side of the competition.
She would go on to lose to Ren Cancan, who would earn a Silver medal in 2012 and then Olympic Bronze in 2016.
“We’re very excited about Elena making her U.S. debut,” Salita notes. “Women’s boxing has soared to new heights, especially thanks to great fighters such as Claressa. Now, Elena will be fighting in front of the cameras with Claressa offering expert commentary. It’s incredible to see women’s boxing showcasd in so many different ways.”
On both sides—men and women—it’s nice to know that there remain viable options even when Plan A doesn’t always pan out.
Eyubov immediately made his presence felt during his Shobox debut, blasting out Jared Robinson in the 2nd round of their Jan. ’16 televised battle. Resonating just as much—if not even more so than his explosive performance—with viewers was his entertaining post-fight celebration, a dance in the spirit of his Kazakhstani heritage, as is his donning a papakha—a big wool hat common among soldiers in the Eastern Bloc—into and out of the ring.
That same entertaining spirit came in his Showtime-televised split decision win over Karim Mayfield one fight later. His last four fights, however, haven’t quite made the cut, with interest in his bouts limited to Salita Promotions press releases listing his name as part of the show.
Friday will mark his fifth straight fight where his fight will precede the Showtime-televised action, only this time the revolution will be televised—or in this case, streamed.
“We work with so many fighters, and even in an era where boxing is on TV more than ever, it’s not that easy to get them all on TV,” notes Salita. “Of course, Claressa will always appear, but for guys like Bhaktiyar it hasn’t been as consistent.
So now fans get to see his fight, they get to see Nico, Elena… it’s also a great way to increase interest in the Showtime part of the card. The UFC does an amazing job in getting the word out for every event they’re affiliated with, so this deal can only benefit everyone.”