With the November 12 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez secured yesterday by HBO, boxing's two biggest American networks will now turn their attention to landing the December 3 pay-per-view rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.
Bob Arum says that he expects Showtime to make a big proposal for the fight, and I wonder just how valued this fight is going to be by HBO and Showtime. HBO is already offering Mayweather vs Ortiz (Sept. 17), Hopkins vs Dawson (Oct. 15) and Pacquiao vs Marquez III (Nov. 12) on pay-per-view, which is a lot of pay-per-view to distribute and produce. Adding another pay-per-view fight just a few weeks after that blitz isn't really a bad idea for them, but you have to wonder how much they can really offer, and if they're prepared to do anything more than normal for a fight that is fairly big, but certainly not on the level of the Mayweather or Pacquiao events, which are due to receive unprecedented media push by HBO and Time Warner.
The fight could simply be a bigger deal for Showtime, to prove that they haven't disappeared from the race after surprisingly carrying Cotto's March 12 pay-per-view bout with Ricardo Mayorga, and then rather shockingly, the May 7 fight between Pacquiao and Shane Mosley. But in their case, too, we aren't talking about a fight that is going to really push the meter on pay-per-view. The first Cotto vs Margarito fight was a terrific success, but was bought by "only" 450,000 viewers, which is a tremendous number for anyone who isn't Pacquiao or Mayweather, but Top Rank may now be looking for an offer that promises an increased media push that before would have been only for Pacquiao or Mayweather, and whether or not the networks are up for that for this level of fight remains to be seen.
If Showtime sees this fight as a must-get, then I expect that Ken Hershman and his colleagues will try to go above and beyond. There's a lot of backstory to use promoting this fight, but the timing of the show is bad no matter how you slice it, and even equaling the 2008 numbers -- back when the two were elite welterweights who promised a no-doubt great fight -- could be quite a task.