Stephen Espinoza of Showtime has taken some hits in the media in recent months, following a largely critically panned 2014 for boxing on the network, and the loss of an iron grip on fighters at Golden Boy Promotions and those advised by Al Haymon.
But Espinoza and Showtime still have the sport's top money man, Floyd Mayweather, and a potential record-breaking fight with Manny Pacquiao. While Pacquiao reportedly had agreed to terms for a May 2 bout, various people involved are backing away from that news, even if they aren't outright denying it (though some are).
Espinoza says that the fight's negotiations are progressing, but that they're still a long way off:
"It's sort of irrelevant whether pieces of the deal are done. We're running a race, and we want to get to the finish line," said Espinoza. "If we don't get to the finish line, then it's not much of a consolation that we got two thirds of the way there. We want to reach the finish line and we've got a bit more running to do."
One hurdle to clear would be Showtime working with HBO on producing the pay-per-view event. HBO has Pacquiao under contract, and Showtime, of course, has Mayweather. But that doesn't appear to be a serious issue -- if the fighters can agree, the networks certainly would. Dan Rafael at ESPN.com reported that the two sides met in New York:
HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler and HBO Sports President Ken Hershman joined Showtime chairman and CEO Matt Blank and Showtime Sports Executive Vice President and General Manager Stephen Espinoza on Wednesday at an undisclosed restaurant in New York to discuss the framework of a deal, a source with knowledge of the meeting told ESPN.com.
There is a long way to go according to the source.
"If this was a 100-meter dash, it's at about the 40-meter mark," the source said.
Pacquiao previously stated that he thought there would be an announcement by the end of January, which would allow for three months of promotion for a fight that doesn't need as much selling as any other matchup might.