Lem Satterfield

Exclusive: Showtime’s Espinoza shares network’s vision for boxing

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On the competitive relationship between Showtime and HBO:

“One good thing about it is that Ken Hershman and I have a good relationship. We’ve worked with each other in our prior lives, and I have a good sense of his enthusiasm and his passion for the sport, and I think that he can say the same about me.

“I know that we both have a genuine enthusiasm for the sport as a whole, and we want see the sport as a whole, elevated. There is room for two very successful, very active networks in boxing.

“In fact, I think that the sport needs it. So there doesn’t have to be a winner and a loser in this. That said, I’m going to do my best not to cannibalize dates. I don’t think that’s good for the sport.

“There are, I’m sure, going to be situations where that can’t be worked out and there are going to be some conflicts. But as a general rule, I would like to start out being respectful of each other’s dates.”

On possible Showtime/HBO joint promotions similar to that featuring Lennox Lewis [who was with HBO] against Mike Tyson [who was with Showtime]:

“Could that happen again? I think, sure. It’s more likely to happen when there is a pre-existing relationship like the one that Ken and I have had. Ken and I negotiated a lot of the more recent fights.

“I was on the Mike Tyson side in that situation and he was on the Showtime side. So we have that sort of relationship, and I think that there will be a dialogue where that’s appropriate.”

On Pay Per View:

“I think that unfortunately, for a variety of factors, pay per view has, in some situations, become an unfortunate crutch for the sport. It’s something that I think all of us — promoters, fighters and the networks — need to be weaned off of in terms of using that as a crutch.

“There are events that sort of demand that financial structure. I think that where we start to get some push back from the consumer is when we’re using pay per view as a sort of crutch because there’s not a license fee in the budget at that particular time of the year.

“That hurts when you’re going to the pay-per-view well that often, and then, we’re going to find it drier each time that we go. So, again, these are all ideals and I am sure that I’m going to face certain realities.

“But at the outset, I would like to think that I can be successful in communicating to the promoters that sometimes cashing in on the money short term is not in the long term interests.”

On higher profile deals with elite fighters such as Mayweather, Pacquiao, Martinez and Ward:

“One of the things that we need to do as a sport to provide greater continuity is to make a greater effort at long term planning. One of the complaints that you hear from casual fans is that ‘I don’t know when guys are fighting.’

“I want to follow a guy, but then, I don’t know when he’s fighting, and then, I don’t hear from him for six months.’ Virtually other business in the United States works within a season for the major sports, and major companies have annual budgets and other annual financial objectives.

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“I would love to see boxing work from more of an annual basis, either long term or annual. One of the things that I am in the process of doing is sitting down with the promoters and asking, ‘okay, not ‘what the next fight is,’ but ‘what does the year look like for your major guys?’

“Let’s go ahead and look into or refer to ‘multi-fight deals.’ I don’t think that you necessarily have to refer to them as ‘multi-fight deals,’ but you could sort of call it annual planning. If Lou DiBella wants Sergio Martinez to fight twice, say, once in March, and then again, in August, then great. Why not go ahead and have the discussion about knocking them out both at once, from the television perspective?

“And then, you can start planning both in terms of your network and your promotional basis. That’s not always possible considering the nature of the sport, but it’s something that I would like to make a genuine effort at doing because I think that it’s not only good for the network, but it’s also good for the sport.”


 

Photo by Tom Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo by Tom Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photo / Marty Rosengarten-Ringsidephotos.com

Lem Satterfield can be reached at lemuel.satterfield@gmail.com

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