Any boxer who doesn't wish to spend the majority of his career toiling in obscurity wants to know his promoter has explored all options in maximizing his in-ring exposure. Artie Pelullo - the founder and head of Banner Promotions whose company has never been averse to working with another promoter for the sake of keeping his athletes busy - kept that in mind in making sure that at least stateside boxing fans can bear witness to his client Petr Petrov's second attempt at becoming a world champion.
Thanks to a new school adaptation from an old school character, Petrov's pursuit of reigning lightweight titlist Terry Flanagan will play before a broader audience than just those who live within the coverage area for hosting networks BT Sport and BoxNation. Their scheduled 12-round clash at the Manchester Arena in Flanagan's hometown of Manchester, England will air via live stream on Twitter (boxing.twitter.com, Saturday, 5:00 p.m. ET), marking the first-time ever that a live boxing match is made available exclusively on the social media outlet in the United States.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to bring the WBO Lightweight World Championship exclusively to Twitter in the United States on April 8th," said Pelullo of the venture.
It comes less than two months after Showtime performed a similar experiment. The American cable giant allowed coverage of its February 18 televised tripleheader - topped by Adrien Broner's narrow points win over Adrian Granados - to simultaneously air live on its network and on Twitter, playing to favorable results.
With that came the decision to expand coverage for what will mark the fifth title defense for Flanagan (32-0, 13KOs), who won the title in his hometown in June '15, and made his first defense in this very arena.
The well-traveled Petrov (38-4-2, 19KOs) makes his U.K. debut, marking the sixth country to play host to the Spain-based Russian boxer. His lone other title attempt also came in his opponent's backyard, suffering a 4th round knockout loss to then 140-pound titlist Marcos Maidana in Sept. '11.
He has since won nine of ten, his lone loss over that stretch once again coming on the road, when he traveled to Montenegro in April '13 in a 12-round defeat to Dejan Zlaticanin, who eventually went on to win a lightweight title. Six wins have followed for Petrov, including his running the tables in the ESPN2 Boxcino Lightweight tournament.
Petrov's last two wins have taken place on the California soil of hosting promoter Golden Boy Promotions, but coming up aces in wins over Marvin Quintero and Michael Angel Perez to storm into the title picture. Both bouts aired live on Estrella TV, which boasts limited coverage in the U.S. and whose webcasts on RingTV's streaming outlet only carried a cult following.
A much wider viewing pool is made available for Saturday's contest.
"We are thrilled to partner with Banner Promotions to bring more live boxing to Twitter," said Anthony Noto, COO at Twitter. "Our passionate boxing fans can view the live stream of the WBO Lightweight World Championship and join the live conversation all on Twitter."
Past efforts by Pelullo to push his boxers toward big opportunities often meant accepting a role on the B-side and playing along with the hosting network of choice for the lead network. Should success be found here, it could dramatically expand the horizons for Banner Promotions as well as any "second-tier" promoter who doesn't want to have serve at the mercy of a larger entity for the sake of keeping its clients active as TV opportunities become fewer and far between for the lower 99%.
"This is a great opportunity to partner with Twitter on this unique medium, in order to reach a broader fan base and to reach potential new fans of boxing," acknowledges Pelullo.