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By all measures, 2016 was at best a trying year for HBO, long the premier home for cable boxing, as the network struggled to put on quality matchups in a year of shrinking budgets for the sweet science. The last couple of months salvaged something, but overall the year was a lost one.

You don’t need to look hard to realize that trend is set to continue, at least into the early part of the new year.

HBO has only one network show on its calendar, and that won’t take place until January 28. 

Yes, Francisco Vargas vs. Miguel Berchelt and Takashi Miura vs. Miguel Roman has barnburner written all over it, but as of this writing, it’s literally the only thing on the HBO calendar that isn’t slated for PPV. 

Miguel Cotto and James Kirkland will meet in what’s certain to be a bomb of epic proportions on HBO PPV February 25. There’s zero demand for that fight, and the fans are likely to steer clear in droves. 

GGG-Jacobs will also be on PPV, though that’s more defensible under the circumstances.

Showtime, on the other hand, has loaded up its first-quarter calendar.

Badou Jack and James DeGale will meet January 14 in a super middleweight unification fight at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, followed two weeks later by a highly anticipated featherweight title rematch between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz. 

Also on the latter card is a high-level match where Dejan Zlaticanin puts his WBC Lightweight Championship and unbeaten record on the line against fellow unbeaten former world champ Mikey Garcia.

Adrien Broner fights a couple of weeks later, and in perhaps the crown jewel, Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia meet March 4 in a welterweight unification showdown.

Meanwhile, HBO remains asleep at the wheel.

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