Just as Monday Night Football is appointment television for NFL fans across the country, as a youth growing up in the 90’s hardcore fight fans had a weekly platform to promote their sport, USA’s Tuesday Night Fights. On August 15th, 1998 USA pulled the plug on what was at the time the longest running boxing program an 18 year-run that started on Tuesday, October 1, 1982. Its been 20 years, two decades, an entire generation since the sweet science had the excellent platform. Others have picked up the slack to showcase the young up and coming talent and fringe contenders that Tuesday Night Fights regularly featured. ESPN added Friday Night Fights which introduced us to a young Max Kellerman and Brian Kenny and the premium cable channels HBO and Showtime added Boxing After Dark and SHOBOX: The Next Generation. Both of these programs aired good prospects and fights that the network would not have typically picked up. However, it didn’t have the weekly regular platform that USA’s program did.
Tuesday Night Fights played a major role in the development and preservation of the sport. It gave a regularly televised spot to fighters who wouldn’t normally have had their fights televised. Countless fighters, excellent fighters had their career fast-tracked because of the weekly boxing show. There is plenty of boxing on today in 2018, that is an indisputable fact, however, much of it is impossible to find. I have over a 1000 channels, Bounce Network isn’t one of them, many fight fans don’t even know what BeIn Sports is, so they miss out on countless fights. Some of the extended sports network on CBS and NBC like CBS SportsLine and NBC Sports Network are nearly impossible to find and come along with an extremely costly price tag as typically a premier sports packages is needed to get these channels. On top of that we now have to pay an additional $5-10 a month for various apps and streaming services. What we got weekly, week in and week out and was available to everyone and easy to find for hardcore and casuals alike, is now almost impossible to find and extremely costly.
Tuesday Night Fights has obviously had a big impact on us at 3DBoxing. Our weekly podcast that airs every Tuesday is named in the programs honor. If not for the weekly program I don’t know if I ever would have become the hardcore boxing nut that now gets to do this professionally. I always knew when there were fights on, every Tuesday night at 8 EST two familiar voices would introduce us to all the boxing news of the week and give us the punch by punch commentary. Al Albert, whose voice is synonymous with the sweet science, not only because of the great work he did every Tuesday but also because his two brothers, Marv and Steve are both Hall of Fame announcers who covered the sport and covered some of the biggest fights of their time and Al sounded indistinguishable to his famous brothers, as well as the champ Sean O’Grady, whose strong southern drawl was a great contrast to Albert’s Brooklyn accent. O’Grady would break down every fight as if it was the first fight we ever watched, and if you were watching Tuesday Night Fights it certainly wasn’t, but his analysis if not simple was certainly accurate and on point.
Tuesday Night Fight’s signed off on August 25th, 1998, its final card was headlined by Butterbean a sideshow that people certainly tuned in to watch, but despite the less then perfect ending TNF’s did give us a regular dose of up and coming talent, many careers were fast-tracked by the Tuesday program such As Roy Jones Jr, Oscar De La Hoya, Hector Camacho, Arturo Gatti and Winky Wright were all featured in the developmental stages of their career. In addition to that, both Larry Holmes and George Foreman used the platform to resurrect their comebacks in the 90’s. The USA blueprint that worked so perfectly for 18 years is Something that Showtime’s SHOBOX is sort of running with. It gives two really familiar voices in Steve Farhood and Barry Tompkins two Hall of Fame voices that hardcore is more than a little bit familiar with. A plethora of young fighters with a lot of talent except it does have the regular weekly airing that Tuesday NIght Fights gave us. So, for now, we are relegated to getting 1000 plus channels and paying for a zillion different apps and streaming services to get what we use to get on our basic cable package with Tuesday Night Fights.