HBO, Showtime fall dates to clash
Back in early January, during an exclusive interview with RingTV.com, Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza shared his vision of the network’s future plans for boxing.
A sports attorney, Espinoza became the U.S. cable network’s new executive vice president and general manager of sports and event programming, hired after Ken Hershman left the position to become president of HBO Sports in November of last year.
Among the various topics discussed by Espinoza was the competitive relationship between HBO and Showtime, during which he expressed a belief that the cable giants could co-exist in a symbiotic fashion.
“One good thing about it is that Ken Hershman and I have a good relationship. We’ve worked with each other in our prior lives, and I have a good sense of his enthusiasm and his passion for the sport, and I think that he can say the same about me. I know that we both have a genuine enthusiasm for the sport as a whole, and we want see the sport as a whole, elevated,” said Espinoza at the time.
“There is room for two very successful, very active networks in boxing. In fact, I think that the sport needs it. So there doesn’t have to be a winner and a loser in this. That said, I’m going to do my best not to cannibalize dates. I don’t think that’s good for the sport. There are, I’m sure, going to be situations where that can’t be worked out and there are going to be some conflicts. But as a general rule, I would like to start out being respectful of each other’s dates.”
Espinoza even expressed optimism in joint Showtime/HBO promotions such as that which produced the megafight during which Lennox Lewis, who was with HBO, knocked out Mike Tyson, who was with Showtime, in June of 2002.
“Could that happen again? I think, sure. It’s more likely to happen when there is a pre-existing relationship like the one that Ken and I have had,” said Espinoza.
“Ken and I negotiated a lot of the more recent fights. I was on the Mike Tyson side in that situation and he was on the Showtime side. So we have that sort of relationship, and I think that there will be a dialogue where that’s appropriate.”
But judging by the three, upcoming, conflicting dates for boxing programming between the two nextworks in the fall, it appears that Espinoza’s wish for mutual cooperation has not quite come to fruition.
HBO and promoters Dan Goossen and Gary Shaw will feature WBC lightweight beltholder Antonio DeMarco (27-2-1, 20 knockouts) making his third defense against John Molina (24-1, 19 KOs) on the undercard of a main event featuring RING light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs) and RING super middleweight champion Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs), the latter of whom will defend his RING, WBA and WBC belts from Oracle Arena in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, Calif.
Prior to DeMarco-Molina, HBO will televise a tape-delayed defense by WBC heavyweight titleholder Vitali Klitschko (44-2, 40 KOs) against unbeaten Manuel Charr (21-0, 11 KOs), this, after the 6-foot-7 Klitschko will already have pursued his 13th straight victory in defense of his crown against the 6-4 Charr of Germany at Olympisky Sport Hall in Moscow.
Golden Boy Promotions, with Lou DiBella Entertainment, will feature a Showtime-televised clash between newly-crowned IBF welterweight beltholder Randall Bailey Bailey (43-7, 37 KOs) and former IBF and WBC junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander (23-1, 13 KOs) from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
On the Bailey-Alexander undercard, Lucas Matthysse (31-2, 29 KOs) will battle Nigerian southpaw Ajose Olusegun (30-0, 14 KOs) in a junior welterweight bout.
On HBO Pay Per View, there is a Top Rank clash between WBC middleweight beltholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KOs) and RING champion Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KOs) from The Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The Chavez Jr.-Martinez undercard also boasts WBA junior featherweight beltholder and two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux (10-0, 8 KOs) defending against Robert Marroquin (22-1, 15 KOs), Lou DiBella-promoted two-time middleweight title challenger Matthew Macklin (28-4, 19 KOs) oppoisite Joachim Alcine (33-2-1, 19 KOs), and junior lightweight Roman “Rocky” Martinez (25-1-1, 16 KOs) against Miguel Beltran Jr. (27-1, 17 KOs) for the WBO’s vacant belt.
Chavez-Martinez will also showcase light heavyweight prospect and Notre Dame graduate Mike Lee (10-0, 6 KOs).
Meanwhile, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer is working to secure a fourth and final bout for the undercard of a Showtime-televised main event featuring WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (40-0-1, 29 KOs) opposite Josesito Lopez (30-4, 18 KOs) from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The event already matches sledge hammer-fisted Marcos Maidana (31-3, 28 KOs) against welterweight rival Jesus Soto Karass (26-7-3, 17 KOs), as well as WBC featherweight beltholder Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7, 45 KOs) pursuing his 13th straight win and his 12th knockout during that run in his fifth defense against former 122-pound titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon (43-4, 35 KOs).
HBO and Top Rank will televise junior featherweight titleholder Nonito Donaire (29-1, 18 KOs) against Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) on the network from the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., with former lightweight beltholder Brandon Rios (30-0-1, 22 KOs) making his junior welterweight debut against Mike Alvarado (33-0, 23 KOs) on the undercard.
Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions will feature a defense by WBC junior featherweight beltholder Abner Mares ((24-0-1, 13 KOs) against rising WBA bantamweight titleholder Anselmo Moreno (33-1, 12 KOs, a WBO lightweight title bout matching contenders Richard Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs) and Sharif Bogere (23-0, 15 KOs) and an appearance by undefeated featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. (20-0, 12 KOs) from The Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.
Photos by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photosby Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]