By Sean Crose
“It’s going to be a spectacular night for the sport.”
So said HBO honcho Ken Hershman during a hastily arranged conference call which happened mere minutes after Floyd Mayweather announced to the world that he would indeed be facing Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd.
“Everyone compromised at the right time,” Hershman said of the long gestating deal. In saying so, Hershman was giving a nod to his counterpart, Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza, who was also on the call.
Indeed, both sides had good reason to compromise. As Espinoza put it, the fight is expected to “be a record breaking event.” No doubt all parties involved hope it will be, considering how straining the negotiations proved to be.
“Each side of this negotiation bore some of the pain in making the deal,” claimed Espinoza. “That’s why it got done.”
While it’s true that neither HBO nor Showtime will ever be seen as sister networks, all parties on the call made it clear that they had a set goal in mind, and that the goal led them to get the fight made.
“I have a lot of respect for what Showtime has accomplished,” Hershman conceded, while Espinoza admitted the negotiations “got done in a very respectful, collegial way.”
“We’re going to continue to compete with each other the way we always do,” Hershman stated plainly. Still, he made it clear that the Manny-Floyd fight proves both sides “have the ability to get something done, or at least have a conversation.”
Few details were given on the bout itself aside from the obvious, for it is clear certain matters still need to be ironed out.
As it stands, the fight will be fought at 147 pounds, with both men’s welterweight titles at stake. Oh, and no rematch clause was worked into the contract.
I asked if both sides would be willing to get together again for a rematch after the May 2nd battle. It was a question which was met with good- natured laughter.
“Ask me that question on May third,” I was told.
Unlike the negotiations themselves, the conference call was short and sweet, a show of unity before the promotion of what is most likely the biggest boxing match in all of history.
“I prefer to leave the negotiations behind us,” Hershman said. “We got the deal done, which is the important thing.”
Indeed, both sides have lots of work ahead of them. Still, the participants on the call were able to convey a bit of satisfaction.
The fight, Espinoza claimed, had “been a goal of not only ours, but of Floyd Mayweather’s since he came over to Showtime.”
“We believed this day would come,” said Espinoza. “We worked hard to make it happen and we’re glad that it’s here.”
So, undoubtedly, are millions of other people.
“This is the biggest boxing event of all time,” Hershman said. “We’re confident of that.”