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Why Pacquiao's switch from HBO changes things

Manny Pacquiao's hotly anticipated fight with Shane Mosley won't be on HBO, we find out why and what this means for boxing...

Posted Feb 02, 2011 by Shaun Edwards

manny pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao, easily the biggest and best fighter in the world of boxing right now, has sent ripples through the industry. Pacquiao’s forthcoming fight with Shane Mosley will not be broadcast on the usual HBO but rather on Showtime, a rival network owned by CBS Corporation.

The deal will see the fight heavily promoted on CBS's prime time sports programming, chat shows, and more in the weeks leading up to 7th May and this will, it is hoped, amount to a massive upswing in pay-per-view buys when the fight goes out on Showtime.

So what’s the significance? Well the deal brings to an end the stronghold that boxing promotion companies like Golden Boy Promotions have on the industry. Many fighters were co-erced into going with the likes of Golden Boy because they had the contacts and the exclusivity at HBO (where it was widely accepted all the boxing would be broadcast). This led many fighters to believe that if you wanted to crack the states that you would need Golden Boy behind you, fighters like Ricky Hatton (who signed up to Golden Boy) were undoubtedly swayed by the firm’s stronghold on HBO.

Bob Arum and the Top Rank Promotions team have re-engineered the way it works, taking the power out of the television execs hands and back into the hands of the fighters (or more likely, their promoters). Bob Arum, who looks after Manny Pacquiao put the finishing touches to the deal this week – a deal which is undoubtedly going to add significantly to the Philippine legend’s coffers.

For years, HBO have had the pound-for-pound champion and world heavyweight champion under contract thereby protecting their interest in the sport and ensuring they effectively have a monopoly on it in the USA. Now that Pacquaio has jumped ship and the Klitschko brothers and David Haye are not even shown on the network, the HBO monopoly looks set to be coming to an end.

If the Pacquiao-Mosley generates big money then it will undoubtedly dent the influence of HBO within the boxing industry. More than likely, if Showtime and CBS see the kinds of returns they’ll be expecting from the fight then they will invest more in the sport and generally bring awareness and interest in boxing to greater levels which of course would be good news for everyone.

There’s certainly no shortage of people that want to see this fight, some 16,000 tickets were sold in the 3 hours after they went on sale. Even Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank Manny’s promotions company was surprised at just how quickly the tickets sold saying “Incredible. Simply incredible. I have never promoted a fight that has sold so many tickets so quickly.

It seems Manny Mania has well and truly taken hold with Pacquiao is the new cash cow of the industry. But there are rumours floating about that Manny didn’t even know about the switch from HBO to CBS until one of his advisors, Michael Koncz, informed Pacquiao of the deal that Bob Arum and the networks had been cooking up.

If this is true then some would argue that its unfair for the fighter to not have been consulted, especially considering Arum and Top Rank are supposedly doing it for the good of the sport. These kinds of shady dealings bear all the hallmarks of a man and a promotions company doing what is in the best interest of their own bank balance rather than anything else.

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