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Stephen Espinoza: De La Hoya was ‘deceitful’ in taking Alvarez to HBO

23
Sep

Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza called his network’s exclusive six-fight deal with Mayweather, which took the pound-for-pound king from HBO, “a game-changer,” in February 2013, but the sports executive characterized Tuesday’s announcement that Canelo Alvarez would leave Showtime for HBO as “deceitful” on the part of the fighter’s promoter, Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya.

Alvarez, De La Hoya and HBO Sports president Ken Hershman announced “a long-term commitment with HBO,” ending a relationship with Showtime that had comprised five fights, starting with a fifth-round knockout of Josesito Lopez in September 2012.

Alvarez’s run with Showtime also included a majority decision loss to Mayweather in September 2013, and ended with a split-decision victory over Erislandy Lara in July, with all three of the mentioned bouts transpiring at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Mayweather-Alvarez became the highest-grossing pay per view boxing event of all time with nearly $150 million in revenue reported, eclipsing the $136 million earned by Mayweather’s 2007 victory over De La Hoya.

Espinoza said that he expected Alvarez to remain at Showtime potentially for the remainder of his career, owing to what he called “a multi-year” deal proposed by De La Hoya a few weeks ago.

“Several weeks ago, Oscar came to us at Showtime with a multi-fight proposal on Canelo’s behalf,” Espinoza told RingTV.com on Tuesday. “It was a multi-year proposal that he said would keep Canelo at Showtime. It was a three-year deal, and it was a total of seven fights. The first fight was the Joshua Clottey fight. He said that that was the only fight that they would accept, and we accepted it.

“Oscar promised that Canelo would be at Showtime for years to come, and that he wouldn’t be moving. He even said that he would arrange for Canelo to come out to Los Angeles and to have a celebratory dinner. Now, you fast-forward a few weeks, and he’s reneged on those promises and hasn’t offered any sort of explanation for doing that, not that there really could be any explanation or justification.”

But during a conference call on Tuesday, De La Hoya defended his decision when a reporter asked about Espinoza’s assertion.

“No verbal agreement. I am obviously doing what Canelo is asking of me,” said De La Hoya, whose organization’s ties were severed by HBO in March 2013. “Canelo has expressed many months ago that he would love to explore the possibility of fighting on HBO, and as his promoter, I have to obviously do whatever is possible to grant his wishes.

“I obviously hope that this doesn’t ruin any type of relationship. This is actually a great thing. This is a great thing for the sport of boxing, and this is a great thing for the fans. So I’m assuming and I’m hoping that it affects nothing.”

Given that Mayweather traditionally competes on the weekends of Mexican holidays Cinco de Mayo in May and Mexican Independence Day in September, respectively, Alvarez has stated that he would like to “re-take those dates” for his fans.

“Ultimately, it’s not up to the networks,” said Espinoza. “It’s up to the pay per view distributors and the venues as to who they’re going to give those dates to. I think that if you’re looking at the track record, financially, then it’s tough to turn down Floyd Mayweather when he asks for those dates.”

Below, Espinoza discussed the overall effect of Alvarez’s move to HBO during an interview with RingTV.com.

Stephen Espinoza on the announcement of Alvarez going to HBO:

“There are many things on my mind, for sure. It really comes as no surprise. There have been a lot of signs, not the least of which was that Oscar’s been talking openly about Canelo vs. Cotto with HBO fighters on the undercard since at least July.

“So, a move to HBO for Canelo is obviously something that he’s been thinking about apparently for weeks, if not, a couple of months. But really the only surprising part of it, and really the disappointing part of it, was how Oscar went about it, and there’s really no other way to describe it but to say that it was deceitful.”

On a proposal made by De La Hoya to Showtime on behalf of Alvarez:

“Several weeks ago, Oscar came to us at Showtime with multi-fight proposal on Canelo’s behalf. It was a multi-year proposal that he said would keep Canelo at Showtime. It was a three-year deal, and it was a total of seven fights.

“The first fight was the Joshua Clottey fight. He said that that was the only fight that they would accept, and we accepted it. Oscar promised that Canelo would be at Showtime for years to come, and that he wouldn’t be moving.

“He even said that he would arrange for Canelo to come out to Los Angeles and to have a celebratory dinner. Now, you fast-forward a few weeks, and he’s reneged on those promises and hasn’t offered any sort of explanation for doing that, not that there really could be any explanation or justification.”

On his future relationship with Golden Boy:

“The bottom line is that we want to put on the fights of the best quality and the most entertaining fights and the most entertaining programming on our network, and if the path to getting that programming means that we need to deal with Golden Boy, then we’ll deal with Golden Boy.

On the potential network clash in pay per view dates for the Mexican Holidays between Mayweather and Alvarez:

“Ultimately, it’s not up to the networks. It’s up to the pay per view distributors and the venues as to who they’re going to give those dates to. I think that if you’re looking at the track record, financially, then it’s tough to turn down Floyd Mayweather when he asks for those dates.”

On Showtime’s history with Alvarez:

“I think that, looking backward, that we’re very proud of the work that we did with Canelo, especially in establishing him as a pay per view star, which really makes the move to HBO all the more puzzling.

“But, you know, it’s a two-way street. There are some fighters who are going to move over to their network, just like there were a multitude of fighters who moved to Showtime from HBO, including Floyd. There are many, many fighters in addition to Floyd who have done that.

“We think that with the deep roster of young stars and stars to be, as well as the wide variety of high-quality sports programming that we have, that we’ve already established ourselves as an industry leader in both premium programming and in the pay per view distribution, and we’re going to continue to build upon this foundation for many years to come.”

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