Showtime swipes Pacquiao-Mosley from HBO
In what could mark a sea change in the routine of how major boxing matches are televised in the U.S., Manny Pacquiao's May 7 bout against Shane Mosley at MGM Grand in Las Vegas will be a pay-per-view product of premium cable network Showtime, it was announced Wednesday.
The deal, in the works throughout the month, marks pound-for-pound king Pacquiao's first non-HBO pay-per-view bout since 2006, and will include four fight preview episodes of Showtime's "Fight Camp 360" that will air on CBS.
"What's behind this is we have a terrestrial platform that reaches so many people that you don't have with a premium network [i.e. HBO]," Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum said in confirming the deal. "HBO does a great job, but the distribution we'll have advancing this fight, the awareness of the event we'll generate by having CBS participate -- this opportunity is absolutely enormous."
A Showtime spokesman said announcers Gus Johnson, Al Bernstein and former boxer Antonio Tarver are expected to call the bout, which will be a WBO welterweight title defense by Pacquiao against the veteran Pomona fighter Mosley, 39, a former three-division world champion.
Showtime will also broadcast a March 12 Arum fight pitting super-welterweight champion Miguel Cotto versus Ricardo Mayorga in Las Vegas.
Arum dismissed questions about whether the shift reveals a disdain for HBO, which he has blamed for influencing the split between the promoter and unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. Arum also has mostly privately seethed at HBO's apparent favoritism of fighters in the stable of Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.
HBO was originally expected to televise Pacquiao-Mosley, but Arum never fully committed and HBO balked at airing the Cotto fight. Arum has long threatened to stiff HBO in a big way, and this time he pulled the trigger.
"We look at HBO as a valued customer of ours, and it doesn't have to be vitriolic or filled with animosity, what we're doing here with Pacquiao-Mosley," Arum said.
Arum declined to reveal Showtime's percentage in broadcasting the bout, but said, "Is there a cash difference? Hopefully, there will be by getting this fight out there to a bigger audience. I believe it will result in increased sales."
The promoter for years has yearned for a return of Saturday fights on CBS, as he once delivered in the 1970s.
Could this deal serve as a precursor to more boxing on network TV?
"One step at a time," Arum said. "Obviously, we're looking forward to see if it's feasible and see what will happen when we put boxing back on network TV. I'd love to put some really good Saturday night fights back on the networks in prime time."
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Manny Pacquiao. Credit: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press