When CBS hired former Golden Boy Promotions lawyer Stephen Espinoza to run Showtime Sports in 2011 – after former head Ken Hershman ditched them for the bigger budget and bigger audience at HBO – it completely changed the boxing landscape. Essentially, Showtime became Golden Boy’s new TV channel. Almost every fight of theirs, in 2012, came courtesy of Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya.
A decision from HBO has now made it official, as Hershman announced they would not be doing business with Golden Boy following the steady flow of HBO fighters over to Showtime courtesy of GBP, including Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“In order to achieve our goal of the best fighters in the most compelling matchups, we’ve decided to focus our efforts and resources on those strategic relationships where we better share common goals and business philosophies,” Hershman said in a statement given to ESPN.com.
HBO will work with Top Rank as well as Goossen Tutor promotions, who have Andre Ward, and Lou DiBella, who promotes Sergio Martinez. They won’t have to worry about much competition from Showtime for these fights.
Showtime seems to be isolating themselves from other promoters. Paul Williams' victory over Nobuhiro Ishida in February 2012 was the last time Dan Goossen worked with Showtime, shortly after he took Andre Ward to HBO following Showtime's Super 6 tournament that gave him his stripes. Top Rank and Showtime haven't put on a show since Juan Manuel Lopez’s loss to Orlando Salido in March 2012. Business began declining shortly after he took Manny Pacquiao back to HBO after his fight with Shane Mosley on Showtime.
"As far as I'm concerned Showtime does not exist,” Arum told TheSweetScience.com. “We haven't done (a promotion) with Showtime since I think Salido-Juanma...It's not for lack of trying, they won't even take our calls or anybody elses."
Showtime is betting everything they have on Golden Boy Promotions, and, with HBO's announcement, Golden Boy is tied to their success, as well.
They will be relatively safe for six years, thanks to their landmark deal with Mayweather . They also have two aces in the hole in Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Adrien “The Problem” Broner. The 22-year-old Mexican possesses an alphabet title and draws massive numbers. Broner will be groomed on Mayweather and Canelo undercards, and with plenty of stiff competition in Golden Boy’s stable from lightweight to welterweight, will have plenty of time to shine.
But what happens if Mayweather doesn’t live up to the gargantuan deal? Floyd has preferred to fight less than once per year since coming out of retirement against Juan Manuel Marquez in 2009. This contract has him slated for six fights in just 30 months. Even if he does complete the deal, will he continue to be the biggest attraction in the sport? What if he actually loses? Can you name six more opponents you’d shell out $60 to see Floyd fight? Does Golden Boy have that many fighters available?
What happens down the road if Broner – who has recently been calling himself Mr. HBO Boxing and idolizes Money Mayweather – demands more money and wants to open things up to the free market? Will the system be able to keep feeding itself? It only takes one of these entities to get greedy. How surprised would you be if that happened in boxing?
Everything is all good over at the little budget that could...for now. They’ve made the big splash and have the biggest name in the sport at their disposal. They also have a superior marketing plan, and will be utilizing as much CBS property as possible to maximize their revenues. What you saw a year ago, with the buildup for Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley during March Madness, will become the norm. There will be press conferences on CBS, and Showtime announced they will be running two documentaries on Mayweather – one on his life while the other, “30 Days in May,” focuses on his time in jail. In the F-U fashion Showtime seems to be moving in, they brought in former HBO president Ross Greenburg – the man Hershman replaced – to oversee the projects.
But victory is not earned by announcements. HBO still has a bigger budget and, more importantly, a bigger subscriber base. Showtime is betting GBP will have enough in-house fighters to produce a better product than HBO, and that it will be able to pull subscribers from HBO – which has a better overall product (at least based on Emmys) – to continue growing business.
That is a huge gamble.
It is also much easier to sustain a consistent business with competition from different sources, which HBO will have and Showtime will not. Options are good. Tying yourself to people nicknamed “Money” and “The Problem” isn’t necessarily the best business plan. HBO also has six of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters (Tim Bradley, Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire, Marquez, Martinez and Ward) while GBP has just Abner Mares and Mayweather.
Hailing Showtime victorious in this battle is like any pre-fight bluster, really. The fight has barely started. While Showtime might cruise through the first few rounds, the winner will be evident at the final bell.