More than 300 members of the mainstream sports and boxing media converged into a jam-packed standing-room only ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Thursday for the kickoff press conference featuring global superstar and Philippine Congressman Manny Pacquiao and three-division world champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley.
Showtime Networks Inc. and CBS have joined forces with Top Rank, Inc. to promote, produce and distribute the biggest boxing event of the year—the May 7th showdown between Pacquiao and Mosley to be held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The fire marshals were even on hand making sure the overflow crowd didn’t reach maximum standards at the legendary Los Angeles hotel.
“We look forward to one of the great promotions and one of the great fights of all time,” said Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter and Top Rank CEO. “We’re so pleased to announce that this fight and this event will be distributed by our friends at SHOWTIME Pay-Per-View.”
It was an electric and festive press conference attended by such notables as Les Moonves, President and CEO of CBS Corporation, the youngest of Nelson Mandela’s three daughters, Zindzi Mandela, and Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee.
“As everyone knows we’ve been in the land of Cowboys for our last two fights,” said Arum. “But I live in Las Vegas and I thought it was time to come back to the place which is the capital of boxing. I think boxing needs Las Vegas and Las Vegas needs boxing.
“This is like boxing’s version of the Super Bowl.”
Here’s what the principals had to say on Thursday:
MATT BLANK, Chairman and CEO of SHOWTIME Networks Inc:
“We are incredibly pleased to be in business with Bob Arum and Top Rank, the premier promoter in boxing today. This is going to be a tremendous event and hugely successful for the fighters, the promoters, the distributors, fight fans and the sport of boxing and we are delighted to be a part of it.
“It is a tremendous privilege to be a part of what surely will be the biggest boxing event of the year and involves one of the world’s greatest athletes in all of sports.”
KEN HERSHMAN, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports®
“This is a long time coming. It’s now our job to take boxing to the next level and bring it back to the masses and I think we’re on the right track. This is a marriage that makes sense and I think it’s going to be a very productive and long lasting one for all of us.
“We’re going to go deeper and broader then we ever have before. We’re going to launch our FIGHT CAMP 360° series around this show. We’re going to be airing that show both on CBS and SHOWTIME and I think it’s going to be really compelling television.
“The other thing that this fight has going for it is it benefits from one of the most ambitious SHOWTIME sports schedules in history. We have, kicking off Saturday night in New Jersey, our Grand Prix Heavyweight MMA Tournament, we have our bantamweight tournament finale, our Super Six semifinals coming up…so it’s just a perfect confluence of events and time for SHOWTIME Sports and we couldn’t be happier.”
BOB HALLORAN, MGM Grand Sports Entertainment Director:
“We’re not happy you’re (Pacquiao) back, we’re ecstatic. We know that when you get the best promoter you ultimately get the best fighter and that’s what we have in Congressman Pacquiao and Shane Mosley. Globally, the most popular fighter in the world today is Manny. We got the best.
“Every time this guy fights we open the ticket office and then they all go home in an hour. We’ve got about 580 tickets left for this fight and we’ll have about 30,000 closed circuit tickets available at our different properties around Las Vegas.
“You may not have this many cameras at the Grammy’s on Sunday night. They’ll be lucky if they have this many.”
“I’m excited to be fighting on May 7 because it’s covered by SHOWTIME and CBS. It’s going to give more boxing fans a chance to see the fight.
“I am going to train hard because I don’t want to disappoint the people who are going to watch this fight.
“Sugar Shane is a good fighter and he’s a champion so I will never underestimate him.
“Yes, I like all the media attention. We are trying to make this the fight of the year and that’s why we will train so hard.”
“Manny’s a great guy and when I look at him I look at him as a true competitor. I look at him as someone who really wants to win. He loves the sport of boxing and he loves to fight.”
How do you beat a Manny Pacquiao?
“I think it’s very hard but styles make the fight. Being that he’s a very exciting fighter and likes to bring it, that leaves openings for me. We’ll see when we get to the fight. It’s not the African-American style that will beat him. It’s my style that will beat him. Everybody fights differently and styles make the fight and in this fight you have two guys engaging and I think I have what it takes to get the job done.
“I don’t know what the odds are for this fight. I’m not a betting man. I definitely won’t be on the losing end. I think it should be even. We are two similar types of fighters. We both like to battle. He throws punches more rapidly than I do but my punches are heavier. I don’t know what the over-under is. It won’t go the distance. This is the type of fight that would never go the distance.
“My relationship with Manny Pacquiao is great. I have nothing against Manny Pacquiao.
“I’m definitely excited to be fighting on SHOWTIME. It’s going to be something special, especially having the FIGHT CAMP 360° on CBS. This will be one of the biggest fights of my career, if not the biggest.”
FREDDIE ROACH, Pacquiao’s trainer:
“We look forward to this. We have an opponent with a different style and we’ve come up with a game plan and a lot of people are telling me this is an easy fight and that’s the worst thing in the world to say. It’s definitely not an easy fight. Shane has been there many times. He’s going to rise to the occasion. He’s fighting Manny Pacquiao. He will fight the best fight of his life out there and we will not underestimate him. Shane, we will not do that. I promise you.”
The Pacquiao-Mosley U.S. media tour will continue on to Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and New York in The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers – Pier 61 with news conferences that will be open to the public on Saturday, Feb. 12 and Monday, Feb. 14, respectively.
The fight is being promoted by Top Rank, in association with MP Promotions, Sugar Shane Mosley Promotions, Tecate and MGM Grand, Pacquiao vs. Mosley will be produced and distributed live by SHOWTIME PPV®.