Sports

HBO or Showtime? Manny Pacquiao, Arum to Decide by Weekend

| by Alex Groberman

Can HBO get Manny Pacquiao back? Can Showtime lure the Filipino superstar away for good?

Those questions and more will be answered by this coming weekend. Top Rank boss Bob Arum expects to announce which company will get the rights to televise the Pacquiao v. Juan Manuel Marquez pay-per-view bout scheduled for November 12 in Las Vegas.

As first reported by Keith Idec of BoxingScene.com, Arum and his team will vote on the matter later this week. Once the decision is made, he’ll let all of the companies involved know what the final call is shortly thereafter.

“Our goal,” Bob Arum said, “is that we’ll vote on it by the end of the week.”

“The [package] that [HBO has] offered to us is something a year ago that nobody would’ve dreamed of,” Arum said. “If it was still the same [nonsense], we wouldn’t even be debating it. We would’ve already signed a contract with Showtime/CBS.”

Whether or not HBO has truly come back with a great offer or Arum is just trying to use them for leverage against Showtime remains to be seen. It is worth noting, however, that HBO has more or less admitted to some errors in judgment in the recent past.

By not utilizing all of the powers at their disposal thanks to the vast reach of parent company, Time Warner, HBO let themselves get pushed aside by Showtime and their CBS backers. It was that particular lapse, above all else, that proved to be the final nail in the coffin of ex-HBO president Ross Greenburg’s career.

After HBO let Pacquiao v. Mosley slip away, the fight went on to earn 1.3 million PPV buys – making it the biggest fight of the year thus far.

Arum, although he attempted to be slick about it, essentially pointed out that HBO was trying to make amends for their past mistakes. He also took a little potshot Greenburg, noting that the real leaders of HBO wanted to make sure that they don’t lose the broadcasting rights to a Pacquiao fight for the second consecutive bout.  

“What happened was that the leaders of HBO, not the people in HBO Sports, the guys who really run HBO — Michael Lombardo (programming president) and Richard Plepler (co-president) — really got involved,” Arum said. “They’re very, very bright and they’re first-class guys. The problem heretofore with HBO was that it was like the head of HBO Sports looked upon it as his fiefdom and didn’t want to go outside of the confines of HBO Sports, using the assets available to HBO Sports.

“That never made any sense, because HBO Sports is part of HBO, which has a lot of good assets. And HBO itself is part of Time Warner, which has even better assets. So the fact that those assets wouldn’t be utilized was not giving the best effort in [promoting] pay-per-view [boxing]. The guys who are running HBO now, when they became aware of that situation, they came in and corrected it.”

Will HBO’s newfound appreciation for Pacquiao and Top Rank result in Arum taking his business back to the company? Only time will tell.

For now, though, it’s safe to assume that this will be a hectic couple of days for the good folks at Showtime, who are basically just hoping that their competitors shoot themselves in the foot, again.