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How to Make Floyd Mayweather’s Move to Showtime Help Fans

Posted on 02/20/2013

By Ivan G. Goldman

Will Floyd Mayweather’s departure to Showtime, starting with his May 4 contest against Robert Guerrero, have any real effect on boxing fans? Yes, and as things stand, it won’t be a positive one. No, I’m not an HBO cheerleader. I have no dog in this fight. Like other fans, I just want excellent matches, and I want to see them as cheaply as possible. More on that later.

Floyd’s super-duper six-fight contract (We don’t know the exact terms, but apparently he’s going to make a record-breaking bundle) is yet another step toward dividing the big-time fight world into two feuding camps that have less and less to do with each other. Let’s call these camps the HBO Homeys and the Showtime Sharks.

Inside the Sharks camp we find Golden Boy Promotions run by Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya, and also that mysterious mover and shaker Al Haymon, the Harvard-educated music mogul who saw an opening in boxing and jumped right in. Haymon certainly had much to do with negotiating Mayweather’s new TV deal. Also we have Stephen Espinoza, who used to be Oscar’s lawyer and now runs Showtime boxing.

In the Homeys Camp we have Top Rank Promotions run by Harvard-educated Bob Arum. For awhile he was the undisputed smartest man in boxing (especially after Don King started downsizing his operation), but now Haymon is challenging for the title. Another Homey is Ken Hershman, who left Showtime Sports for HBO, which means he’s really, really, really eager to bury his former network. He was last seen muttering and sticking pins in a doll that looked a lot like Mayweather.

Each camp has less and less to do with the other. Golden Boy has placed occasional shows on HBO, and Top Rank fighters still show up on Showtime now and then, but Floyd’s departure for Showtime escalates grievances and makes fraternization between the two camps even less likely than it already was. Mustangs like promoter Dan Goossen deal with both sides.

HBO thought it could slide into another deal with Mayweather, no trouble, and now it wants revenge. Showtime just wants to make it at least a two-punch combination and steal something else out from under HBO.

All this makes certain dream match-ups even harder to put together. Take Nonito Donaire and Abner Mares, for example. The fight just couldn’t get made. It’s hard to know who’s at fault because people lie a lot, but it didn’t appear to be the fault of the fighters. There was just too much bad blood between Arum, who is Donaire’s promoter, and Schaefer and Oscar, who are of course Sharks. Putting those two in the same ring looks about as likely as Israeli and Palestinian leaders toasting marshmallows together and singing Goombaya. Positions have hardened. Bad blood’s gotten badder. Instead we get an April 13 match in New York between two Top Rank fighters — Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux. It’s a good fight, sure, but all three fighters should participate in a round robin.

Remember Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Tommy Hearns? If you’d told those guys they can’t fight each other because of some business squabble they’d have laughed at you. Fighting was their business, and fighting is what they did.

Here’s what I suggest: Why not extend all this acrimony into an old-fashioned price war? I’m talking about competing on pay-per view fees, which for the big fights are, as you know, up around $70. What I mean is, if these Homeys and Sharks want to get competitive, what about undercutting the other guy on what he charges the customer? The Sharks should slash the price of Mayweather-Guerrero down to, let’s say $18.99. That how it’s supposed to work when businesses go head to head. They compete not just on the quality of the merchandise, but also on price. Airlines, car companies, auto rental agencies, supermarkets, parking lots — they all do it. Why not premium TV channels? If they were genuine capitalists the direction of their prices wouldn’t always be toward the moon. Let’s have a turf war that works to our benefit for once.

Reading Goldman’s critically acclaimed novel Isaac: A Modern Fable {Permanent Press, 2012) is a fine experience the author wishes for each and every one of you. So buy it. Information HERE

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