HBO: Is network giving up on boxing?Written by Mark Weber
After decades of broadcasting premium boxing entertainment, it appears HBO may no longer be committed to the sport.
Late last month, the network refused a November 5th PPV bout between superstar Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas. For now, that bout will be broadcast via the promotional company Top Rank, itself, or some other network entity.
Has HBO given up on boxing? And will Showtime become boxing's biggest stage?
"We have a meeting to discuss Lomachenko with Showtime," Arum said. "As far as HBO is concerned, they could do (his next fight) but they got no money,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told Ring TV.
"It's not only Lomachenko — it's Tim Bradley, it's Terence Crawford. We're going to bring up all of our fighters," Arum added.
In a crushing blow to the sport and its fans, HBO, earlier this year, forced Arum to broadcast Terence Crawford versus Viktor Postol on pay-per-view.
It was a quality match-up that would have typically been shown on HBO given neither fighter had reached mainstream stardom. So even though Crawford is an elite talent, he doesn’t have the star power to generate "PPV" interest and the buyrate was very low to no one’s surprise.
HBO also may have caused some panic with Arum by recently by offering Nikolas Walters only $550,000 to fight rising star Vasyl Lomachenko. Who knows who is to blame for low-balling Nick, but $550,000 to fight Lomachenko is comedy. If HBO truly wanted the fight, they could have certainly funded better. It should be noted, however, that Arum and Walters are in a contract dispute at the moment, so placing full blame on HBO might be unfair.
If Arum takes his talents to Showtime, it will leave HBO with just a hand-full of fighters.
Sure, they have Canelo, but his contract with HBO is set to expire next year. They also have Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev but both fighters are in their mid-30’s and generally have trouble finding marquee opponents.
Kovalev is fighting Andre Ward in November in what will certainly be a big fight, but will it provide the PPV numbers HBO is seeking? HBO has Miguel Cotto who is a future first ballot Hall of Famer but his best days are behind him. Moreover, they have the Golden Boy Promotions stable which, outside Canelo, lacks star power, especially with Luis Ortiz leaving the promotion.
HBO Boxing also has the rights to Wladimir Klitschko vs Tyson Fury rematch but its rival, Showtime, recently signed the world's hottest heavyweight, emerging star Anthony Joshua.
So what's HBO's gameplan? And do they expect boxing to play a major role in its future?