- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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When heavyweight Johnathon Banks broke his right thumb in sparring last week, forcing postponement of his rematch against Seth Mitchell on Saturday night, it left HBO and Golden Boy Promotions with a decision to make: Go with just the lightweight title main event between Adrien Broner and Gavin Rees or add another fight from the undercard to the broadcast.
Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer pushed for HBO to televise a fight that was already on the card at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. -- the super middleweight title eliminator between former title challenger Sakio Bika and Nikola Sjekloca.
HBO wasn't quite sure if it wanted to do that, but on Tuesday they finalzed a deal to add the fight to the telecast.
I'm not sure what took so long to make the decision, but it's made and there will be a doubleheader Saturday night (10:30 ET/PT) when, by the way, HBO will unveil a makeover to its "World Championship Boxing" theme music, graphics, logo and lighting. (Also, the iconic theme to its "Boxing After Dark" series will be no more when HBO makes a change to that, too, for the next edition of that show.)
Schaefer was happy to find an outlet for the fight between Bika (30-5-2, 21 KOs), a Cameroon native who lives in Australia, and Sjekloca (25-0, 7 KOs), who is from Montenegro.
"I think it's terrific," Schaefer said. "It is a fight which I was hoping get televised anyway and I didn't have a spot, but the fight had to happen [because it's an official eliminator] so we put it on the card and it wasn't going to be televised. Bika is a come-forward guy who makes good fights and my matchmakers tell me that Sjekloca is an exciting come-forward guy as well, so it should be a terrific fight and I am happy HBO is picking it up."
The winner of the fight is due to become a mandatory challenger for super middleweight champion Andre Ward, already an owner of a lopsided decision win against Bika, who has won two fights in a row since that defeat.
"Obviously, since HBO is deeply invested in the 168-pound weight class, I feel this is the right spot for this fight to air," Schaefer added.