The biggest news story of the day is that of Showtime-CBS landing the rights to air the May 7th Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley pay-per-view event from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our colleague Lem Satterfield at AOL Fanhouse confirmed an earlier report from BoxingScene’s Rick Reeno after speaking with Pacquiao’s manager Michael Koncz earlier today.
The shrewd Canadian told Satterfield that Showtime had a very serious advantage in that they were able to televise a multi-part series, similar to HBO’s 24/7 showcases, that would air on CBS. The simple fact that CBS is able to reach 115 million homes as opposed to the 28 million touched by HBO speaks volumes about the importance of having anything boxing related back on prime-time television.
Seems like sound logic but there is definitely more than meets the eye with this latest news. I was able to get in contact with a source with knowledge of the situation who revealed that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who oversees Pacquiao, hasn’t been particulary happy with HBO and that the Showtime-CBS deal was one that had been brewing for a while.
Apparently Arum’s frustration began to mount after he reached out to HBO recently about the possibility of pitting another one of his star fighters, WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, in against middleweight king Sergio Martinez later this year.
Arum’s line of thinking was that Cotto could face off with Antonio Margarito, the first man to defeat him two and a half years ago, and the winner of that bout would serve as an ideal candidate to face Martinez. Cotto because he always draws great ratings and Margarito because he is the first man to defeat Martinez, who he stopped in the seventh round over ten years ago underneath the first Erik Morales-Marco Antonio Barrera bout in Las Vegas.
Arum felt that either Cotto or Margarito would make for a good promotional angle on a Martinez fight but didn’t feel that HBO was helping him out with dates for that scenario whatsoever. Not only was the network reportedly uncooperative, they also reserved a March 12th date for Martinez, a date Arum had been eyeing for a tune-up bout for Cotto, who will now be facing off agaisnt Ricardo Mayorga on the same night in Las Vegas in a bout that will distributed by Showtime Pay-per-view.
Newsflash: Miguel Cotto’s triumph and heartache
Another individual upset with the developments is Martinez’s promoter, Lou Dibella, who is frustrated that his man is in a fight that HBO forced him to take with his bout against WBO junior middleweight champion Sergei Dzinziruk. Added to it, Dibella now has to take that promotion, which is already a tough sell given Dzinziruk’s lack of star appeal, and go up against Cotto, a proven draw over the years, on the same night.
Reportedly, Arum became very upset during the negotiating process in regards to Cotto and said it could realistically affect future relationships with HBO. For Arum it was somewhat of a veiled threat to say that he could shop the Pacquiao-Mosley bout elsewhere but the brasses at HBO didn’t seem to take him seriously.
Looking at the sequence of fights that lie ahead in 2011 thus far, the collaborations between Top Rank and Showtime are all around. Outside of the Cotto and Pacquiao events the network will also be airing Brandon Rios’ February 26th bout against WBA champion Miguel Acosta at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas and Juan Manuel Lopez’s April defense of his WBO featherweight championship, a bout that is set to take place in Puerto Rico, possibly against Orlando Salido.
The only stars on the Top Rank banner set to see any action on HBO are Nonito Donaire, who faces off with bantamweight champion Fernando Montiel on February 19th at the Mandalay Bay, and WBA featherweight king Yuriorkis Gamboa, who faces Jorge Solis on March 26th at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
This changes the landscape of the sport and this definitely appears to be a message from Arum to HBO.
Larry Merchant just dealing with the fights
Upon hearing news of Showtime’s recent success in landing the Pacquiao-Mosley bout I reached out to some boxing minds to see what they had to say but not everyone was in the talking mood.
Showtime analyst Steve Farhood and HBO ringisde official Harold Lederman both seemed to pass on the topic, understandably. Esteemed author Thomas Hauser revealed that it’s up to HBO to pick up the pieces from all of this, and pointed out that the network can do that best by simply making the best matchups possible from this point out.
I briefly caught up with HBO’s Larry Merchant and he didn’t seem too bothered either way.
“To me that’s just business. I just deal with the fights,” he would state.
That begged me to ask what exactly he does when not covering a fight live himself. Always a fan at heart, Merchant revealed that he sometimes has it in him to go out to the events as an interested spectator but also can be seen catching the action at home.
“It depends on the fight. If there is a fight that is in the Los Angeles area where I live and there are a number of venues here, I might go to it if I’m interested in it. Otherwise I’ll watch on television or catch it on some delay.”
In the news
Bert Sugar on Miguel Cotto’s heartache
Cotto and Mayorga continue antics in Puerto Rico
Glen Tapia to see action on Gamboa undercard
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at Trimond@aol.com