Kevin Iole (who is just a machine of Bob Arum news today) says that Top Rank executives will meet tomorrow with Showtime, as the network has "first dibs" on negotiations for the November 12 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, but an offer from HBO is also expected soon.
Showtime, of course, handled the May 7 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley, which was a huge story in boxing TV news in the United States, as Showtime hadn't promoted a major pay-per-view event in nearly a decade by that time. The jump by Top Rank to take Pacquiao to Showtime caught everyone by surprise, and with about 1.3 million pay-per-views sold, you have to consider the move a success, though you also can't say they did better than HBO would have.
What it comes down to, I suspect, is two key factors:
- How seriously Arum and Top Rank take the budding relationship with Showtime and more importantly, Showtime's parent network CBS. If they're dead set on getting boxing back on network TV, continuing to grease the wheels with CBS is vital.
- HBO has a lot more money than Showtime to throw at this fight. If they decide to really go after it, they can simply make Top Rank an offer that they can't refuse. Money makes the boxing world go 'round, frankly, and I mean short-term money. Boxing promoters are notoriously short-sighted businessmen and if HBO makes a blowaway offer, can we really expect Top Rank to turn it down for something as silly as the future good of boxing?
The two networks have had terrific years, and boxing overall has been better than I can remember in the recent past. Good fights are being made constantly, and HBO in particular has a positively stacked lineup right now, as they've rebounded tremendously from any failures or perceived failures.
So what do you expect? Who reels in this big fish fight?