Lou DiBella is a longtime promoter on the New York boxing scene and used to often have his fighters appear on Showtime cards. His most recent fighter that appeared on a Showtime card was Alicia Napoleon who was facing Claressa Shields, but since being left in the cold by the network DiBella says that was only an exception as it suited Showtime’s agenda for Shields. Aside from that, DiBella says he’s been ‘embargoed’ by the Showtime.
When Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza was recently asked in a video interview why DiBella’s fighters have been noticeably absent from his cards as of late, Espinoza reportedly made a reference to DiBella being disloyal — suggesting the promoter used his network to build his fighters’ profiles only to then try to steer them towards signing deals with other platforms.
According to DiBella, Espinoza’s sentiment is directly linked to him fielding a March 2019 meeting between Deontay Wilder (who’s been a mainstay on PBC and Showtime) and DAZN, who wanted to throw piles of money at Wilder to set up an undisputed title unification with Anthony Joshua. Espinoza, however, specifically cites being unhappy with how they hosted Regis Prograis for his fight with Julius Indongo only to have Prograis later fighting on ESPN and DAZN.
“No one is beholden to a network. [DiBella] doesn’t owe me his business, but at the same time there is a consistent evaluation. Part of the calculation of who we do business with … part of it is who is loyal and who we believe does business in the right way with us. I was not happy that we put that much into Regis Prograis and he went somewhere else.”
DiBella insists that the point of contention is not Prograis — saying that he told Espinoza they were open to anything from a one-fight to a mult-fight deal with the network — despite never receiving any offers.
“Even though I was embargoed by Showtime because of the Wilder-DAZN meeting, after the conclusion of the WBSS, I personally offered Regis to Showtime in a meeting with Espinoza at the Palm restaurant [in New York City] on Friday, November 15, 2019. This has nothing to do with Regis. I continued to work with (Showtime) a year after, including Wilder-Fury 1, and ShoBox events (O’Shaquie Foster-Jon Fernandez on Sept. 21), after Regis moved on from Showtime and prior to the Wilder meeting with DAZN. It has everything to do with the meeting between Deontay Wilder and DAZN.”
The promoter would continue to assert that it couldn’t really have been Prograis that got Espinoza’s panties in a bunch because Espinoza himself expressed concerns about the lack of big fight options for Prograis on his network since Al Haymon supposedly wouldn’t allow his fighters to face Prograis on Showtime.
In reality, DiBella was most likely just doing his due diligence for both fighters in both instances, fielding offers to make his fighters the most money possible. But that clearly didn’t sit well with the ‘other side of the street’ folks at PBC and Showtime. And however that all played out behind closed doors, DiBella himself confirmed that he was at least no longer working as Wilder’s promoter by last fall.
During his interview Espinoza would say that he’s not taking the position that he’ll never do business with DiBella again, but that he hasn’t forgotten how things transpired between them in recent times. But as far as DiBella is concerned, he’s essentially been blackballed by the network for that Wilder-DAZN meeting while saying that his only true loyalty was to Wilder to begin with.