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HBO no longer working with Golden Boy Promotions, network war heats up

In a move that has long been in the works but not official, HBO Sports announced this morning that they will no longer be doing business with Golden Boy Promotions, putting the wars between HBO and Showtime and Top Rank and Golden Boy at a new level.

Josh Hedges
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

HBO, the network that helped build a fledgling Golden Boy Promotions when it got started and was expected by most pundits to fail, has announced this morning that they will no longer do any business with the promotional giant, throwing their lot in with Top Rank and other promoters like Lou DiBella, Goossen Tutor, and Gary Shaw, with Golden Boy now entirely featured on Showtime.

The news is shocking in that it's a big, big deal for the American boxing landscape, but also not a major surprise. At this point, HBO was only featuring Bernard Hopkins, Adrien Broner, Keith Thurman, and bubble-burst Seth Mitchell out of the Golden Boy/Al Haymon camp anyway, having recently lost Floyd Mayweather to a long-term deal with Showtime.

In some respects, this is a rebuilding move by HBO. They will feature guys like Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Sergio Martinez, who are nearing the ends of their careers, but this also makes room for younger fighters like Brandon Rios, Nonito Donaire, Andre Ward, and others to make themselves the new cornerstones of HBO boxing.

In others, it's a sign of HBO digging in their heels and choosing their weapons in what has become a serious war between the networks and the rival promoters. Golden Boy has been going this way for a while; when their sweetheart deal with HBO ended, and HBO was no longer catering to their every lousy whim, they started gradually moving fights over to Showtime and new boss Stephen Espinoza, a former GBP lawyer. For years, Golden Boy fighters rarely did their work on Showtime. Now, they will exclusively be there.

I'm not saying that Golden Boy can't survive without full backing from a network, I'm only saying that's how they've done business over the years. In today's boxing world, it makes sense to do business that way. It's smart. The sport today is run in large part by TV money.

Apart from the Big Two, this opens doors for the smaller promoters at HBO. They'll have more dates open to get some fights on major TV.

There are so many layers to what this means for the business right now that it's hard to get them all in here and get the post up soon enough. Let's talk shop in the comments. This is somethin' else, alright.

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