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Showtime’s Espinoza irked by pace of Klitschko-Joshua talks

Photo courtesy of Sky Sports.
02
Mar

If the action in the ring is as competitive as the activity by the networks outside of it, Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title fight with Wladimir Klitschko could be a barnburner.

According to Showtime boxing chief Stephen Espinoza, both HBO and Showtime are making serious bids and refusing to back off their claim to the highly-anticipated IBF/WBA title bout on April 29 at Wembley Stadium in England. Joshua (18-0, 18 knockouts) is regarded as the future of the heavyweight division while Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) represents its proud past as a former unified champion. Espinoza had hoped to already add the fight to Showtime’s glowing schedule. However, HBO, intent on improving its calendar, has held firm.

“It’s a slow process,” Espinoza told a small group of reporters on Thursday before a press conference for Danny Garcia’s welterweight unification fight with Keith Thurman Saturday in Brooklyn on CBS. “It’s been a bit of a struggle to be honest. It’s an attractive fight and both networks feel invested in their respective guy. I hope the finish line is in sight soon because it’s dragged on way longer than it should have.”

Espinoza acknowledged that both networks apparently have first and last matching clauses in the contracts of the fighters (Showtime with Joshua and HBO with Klitschko), causing the standoff.  “That’s the impasse,” Espinoza said. “So there has to be a negotiated resolution where both sides accept it.” Espinoza noted HBO’s resistance to give up a fight that would be a feather in the cap of a network that has moved most of its best matchups recently to pay-per-view.

“They’re a serious bidder, as are we,” he said. “And it’s one of those network conflicts where it’s tough to come up with a resolution and it’s a highly desirable fight. But having said that, it’s not brain surgery and we should be able to come to some sort of resolution in the very near future.”

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