Leonard Ellerbe believes that Floyd Mayweather Jr's breaks from boxing have helped make Manny Pacquiao a bigger star. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Speaking with David Mayo of The Grand Rapids Press, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe said that Manny Pacquiao owes some of his success to Floyd Mayweather Jr, but also that Pacquiao's flirtation earlier this year with Showtime has fueled HBO and made the business side of the sport better for everyone.
"The best thing that ever happened to the sport of boxing was when the little fellow went across the street and fought for another network," Ellerbe said. "It made HBO step their game up. To their credit, they have done a tremendous job in making available, from a corporate standpoint, all the assets that exist within Time Warner."
I would probably quibble with the idea that Pacquiao's one fight on Showtime PPV was "the best thing that ever happened to the sport of boxing," but he is 100% right from a business standpoint, and probably from a boxing standpoint, too. HBO now knows that even the most marquee of fighters will leave their network if they feel there's something better across the way at Showtime, and as we've said before, there is nothing bad that comes from competition between HBO and Showtime. For the time being, it looks like Showtime has basically poked the bear and made it aggressive once again, but I do expect that next year when big fights come up, Showtime/CBS will regroup, now knowing what HBO/Time Warner will do to land these fights, and try to come up with their own bigger packages. The next really big thing that they can offer that HBO/TW cannot is fights on network television.
Ellerbe does say, though, that as far as Mayweather goes, his fight with Victor Ortiz on September 17 was always going to be an HBO fight, and that Showtime "was never even considered." It seems kind of weird to me to say that Showtime being a viable outlet makes everything better, but then basically swear an oath of fealty to HBO, as Maywaether has done on numerous occasions, including that funny jab about not watching Pacquiao vs Mosley and instead watching Lady Gaga on HBO.
Ellerbe also notes that he feels that Mayweather's extended absences have helped Pacquiao's star rise:
"He's a good little fighter," Ellerbe said, "but he's benefited from a lot of what has happened the last couple of years. I'm not talking about the allegations. I'm talking about the fact that he's the sole beneficiary of Floyd deciding to take a little time off."
I guess you could possibly consider this to be a valid claim, but at the same time, if Manny Pacquiao is the only guy who has become a superstar outside of Floyd Mayweather Jr in recent years, doesn't that sort of mean that Manny Pacquiao is pretty damn special himself? No one else has managed it. It's Floyd and Manny, both of whom were, in their own way, made by the last superstar, Oscar de la Hoya, as Oscar passed a pair of torches within his final three fights. And they took those torches and ran with them. So I'd say it's sort of a bunk claim, and that both men deserve their own credit for being the media stars and consistent attractions that they are today.