Bob Arum of Top Rank says that the incoming bids from Showtime and HBO for the November 12 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are unlike anything he's seen before. From Lem Satterfield:
"... I must say, that there is a frenzy. It's unbelievable. They're offering for the promotion an incredible amount of support. Like I've never seen before. We estimate that CBS, that their support was worth about $10 million on the open market for the last fight [Pacquiao-Mosley.] And both HBO and CBS/Showtime are way above that now," Arum told BoxingScene.com.
This time around, Arum believes the proposals will be worth around $15 million - based on early estimations.
... "We're in the process now of making a decision within the next week. HBO blew us over last night with its proposal. We're not dealing with the sports department. We're dealing directly with the chief executives. I never believed that they would come up with anything like this."
This is big, big stuff, even given that Arum is known to exaggerate and overestimate. HBO is rolling out the red carpet for the Mayweather vs Ortiz fight on September 17, and have the available money and resources to lock down the other "big event" fight this fall, which is of course the Pacquiao fight. HBO was stung by losing Pacquiao's last fight to Showtime earlier this year, a move that stunned most in and around boxing, as Showtime had not put on a major PPV boxing event in years. The experiment was a success, but in the end it could simply result in HBO upping the ante and knocking Showtime back down a peg.
The network battle has kicked up in a big way in 2011, and doesn't appear to be ending any time soon. Expect Showtime to come up with a serious offer that will go as far as possible to rival what HBO is offering for the fight, as without fights of this magnitude, Showtime reverts back to being a clear and fairly distant No. 2 as far as U.S. boxing networks go.
And yes, this could, in theory, wind up with Showtime and CBS guaranteeing a network TV fight at some point if HBO is really bringing an unheard-of type of offer to the table. Not for Pacquiao vs Marquez, but a guarantee to Top Rank that somewhere down the line in 2012, they can give boxing a network TV spot. That would be the biggest possible card to lay down, I suspect.