Lem Satterfield

Showtime’s Espinoza ready to compete with HBO for fights


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.- When Showtime announced its purchase of the rights to televise the Feb. 11 rematch between RING No. 3-rated welterweight Victor Ortiz and RING No. 4 rated Andre Berto   on Nov. 25., the move occurred nine days after RingTV.com first reported the network’s hiring of sports attorney Stephen Espinoza to be its executive vice president and general manager of sports and event programming.

Showtime bought the Berto-Ortiz rematch for $2.25 million, trumping the offer of $2.15 million by HBO, which originally televised the unanimous decision by Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) that dethroned Berto (28-1, 22 KOs) as WBC beltholder in April.

The 28-year-old Berto rebounded from the loss to Ortiz by dethroning Jan Zaveck as IBF titleholder by fifth-round knockout in September, stopping Zaveck for the first time in his career, also on HBO. The 24-year-old Ortiz, meanwhile, lost his WBC crown following a fourth-round knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr., (42-0, 26 KOs), THE RING’s No. 2-rated pound-for-pound boxer, in September on HBO Pay Per View.

Ortiz-Berto I featured a total of four knockdowns — two by each fighter.

“My first priority, and the thing that I wanted most, and that was very clear to me, is that I immediately began working on the Berto-Ortiz rematch,” said Espinoza. “It is the most compelling fight out there. It presents the best of our sport. Two, young fighters in the prime of their career, and they both fight their hearts out.”

Furthermore, Espinoza told RingTV.com that there is a message in the fact that Showtime has out-bid HBO for a rematch between a pair of young fighters, neither of whom has titles.

“The message is that we will be opportunistic and that we will compete at the highest level for the most quality events,” said Espinoza. “The message that we’re sending is that in order to compete for high-level, high-quality, compelling events, that we will spend money. That’s the bottom line.”

Espinoza spoke to reporters at Caesar’s Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City on Saturday over the course of three, separate round table discussions involving Ortiz, Berto and RING No. 3-ranked super middleweight and IBF beltholder Lucian Bute (30-0, 24 KOs).alt

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