HBO, Showtime bosses discuss Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao
Just when you were about to give up on the richest fight in boxing, they finally got it done.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao will finally take place on May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Shortly after the surprise email hit the web and sent social media into a tizzy, a conference call was held by Executive Vice President of Showtime Sports Stephen Espinoza and President of HBO Sports Ken Hershman to discuss the upcoming megafight.
The fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao will be fought at the 147-pound weight limit with Mayweather’s RING, WBA and WBC welterweight titles on the line as well as Pacquiao’s WBO title.
“We’re obviously thrilled to be a part of what we expect to be a record-breaking event,” Espinoza stated. “This has been the product of a lot of hard work with some blood, sweat and tears along the way.”
Espinoza explained that the fight had long been a goal of Mayweather’s since signing his record-breaking contract with Showtime. But as much as both sides stated that they wanted to get the fight done, it appeared to be little more than wishful thinking up until Mayweather and Pacquiao happened to be at the Miami Heat-Milwaukee Bucks game on Jan. 28.
The two held a private meeting and it appeared that there may be hope that the fight would finally take place. However, days turned into weeks and no announcement was made until an email went out at 6:22pm ET on Feb. 20 announcing the fight. Around the same time, a post from the Mayweather Promotions Instagram page materialized with an image of the signed contract. Yes, it was very real.
So just how significant was the meeting between the two fighters on Jan. 28?
“It was one of those fortuitous coincidences that we probably couldn’t have planned but were very lucky to have happened,” Espinoza said of the chance meeting. “I wouldn’t say the deal wouldn’t have happened but it wouldn’t have happened as quickly. It’s possible that it wouldn’t have happened at all.
“The direct line of communication between Floyd and Manny cleared up a lot of doubts in both of their minds and renewed their commitment for getting this fight done.”
With the ink still drying on the contracts, both sides were unable to give any detail regarding details such as the broadcast team, how much the pay-per-view would cost, how the behind-the-scenes shows would be handled and some other details that would be ironed out in the coming weeks. As far as digging into some insight on the negotiation process, Hershman was reluctant to provide any details.
“We’re looking forward to making this the biggest fight of all time, not backward to discuss how it was negotiated,” he said. But he did reveal that the last time the two networks collaborated for Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis in 2002 helped provide a roadmap on how to get this deal done.
“Lewis-Tyson showed us that a collaborative effort can be done successfully and there are a lot of mechanics that can carry forward as to how things operate behind the scenes,” Hershman said. “We referred to that as a roadmap; we didn’t exactly follow it, but it helped.”
As for what they could reveal, there wasn’t much but just enough details were readily available.
For one, there is no rematch clause and Mayweather-Pacquiao will be a “one fight deal,” according to Espinoza. However, Hershman said later in the call to ask him again on May 3 once the smoke is clear. “If it’s something the fans and fighters want, we’ll make it happen.”
The coming weeks will be plentiful with details as the talking heads are sure to keep the conversation of this megafight on the forefront of the sports world.
Some may say that it is five years too late, but it appears to be right on time.
Follow Andreas Hale on Twitter: twitter.com/AndreasHale