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The curious media take on HBO cutting ties with Golden Boy

By Zach Arnold | March 18, 2013

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Golden Boy will now only fight on Showtime and not HBO

By now, you know the story: HBO has elected to sever its relationship with Golden Boy. After watching Golden Boy and shadowy adviser Al Haymon strip the network of several of its top guys (Amir Khan, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Danny Garcia and Andre Berto among others) and move them across the street to rival Showtime, HBO decided it had enough.

You want ’em, HBO said to Showtime. You got ’em.

They are putting almost all of their chips in with Bob Arum now and hoping that Main Events, Lou DiBella and Gary Shaw can deliver solid matchups as well.

HBO ends Golden Boy relationship, passes on Adrien Broner (Boxing Scene):

The announcement marked the crumbling of a once-powerful alliance between HBO Sports and Golden Boy Promotions, a relationship that was weakened when Showtime hired former Golden Boy attorney Stephen Espinoza to run its sports division in November 2011. Showtime now televises Golden Boy Promotions cards almost exclusively, but Broner and Bernard Hopkins were the only high-profile Golden Boy fighters whose fights were still broadcast by HBO.

The split was coming for a while (Boxing Scene):

The tension between HBO and Golden Boy began in late 2011, when former Golden Boy attorney Steven Espinoza replaced Ken Hershman as the Vice President and General Manager of Showtime Sports. Soon after Espinoza’s hire, Golden Boy started doing a voluminous amount of business with Showtime. Hershman is now the current President of HBO Sports.

The turning point in the Golden Boy/HBO relationship took place in September 2012. Golden Boy was looking to do a major card on September 15th with WBC junior middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. HBO refused to give Golden Boy the date. The network would instead reserve the previously mentioned September date for a pay-per-view event, which was headlined by Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez and promoted by Golden Boy’s main rival, Top Rank.

So, with all of this turmoil, there’s one question that hasn’t really been asked yet about the future of HBO and boxing:

What is in Ken Hershman’s professional background that indicates that he isn’t going to run HBO the same way he ran business at Showtime?

The conventional wisdom is that because HBO is HBO and not Showtime that therefore this will somehow change the way Ken Hershman runs his boxing platform. I don’t see that happening at all. What you got with Ken Hershman at Showtime is what you’re going to see with Ken Hershman at HBO. Those who have dreams that he’s going to change the way he does business are likely going to be disappointed.

It’s like a new promoter bringing in a matchmaker from a different promoter. The matchmaker isn’t going to change their stripes. They’re going to book fights the way they’ve always booked fights.

So, Hershman made his call and will be going with Top Rank, Dan Goossen, Gary Shaw, Lou Dibella, and Main Events. He’s basically taking The Field while Showtime is going with Golden Boy, who has tried to signed everyone under the planet to a contract. What exactly is so surprising about this development and why would anything think that Mr. Hershman is going to behave differently than he has in the past?

The only thing different this time around is that you may not have Don King to kick around any longer.

Topics: Boxing, Media, Zach Arnold | 16 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

16 Responses to “The curious media take on HBO cutting ties with Golden Boy”

  1. liger05 says:

    Does TR have enough in the ranks to fill HBO’s schedule?

    Does showtime have the money to really make it work it with Golden Boy.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    1) MMA is not coming back to Showtime. If they are signing up with Golden Boy, all of that money used for Strikeforce is now gonna go directly to boxing (plus more). Makes sense for Showtime to put all of their eggs in one basket since the MMA Basket is empty outside of the UFC.

    2) I have to wonder if this move by Golden Boy & HBO is bad for boxing long term. Showtime does not have a track record of creating stars. They have gotten stars from other places in the past and used them until they got old. HBO has always been the place that created stars.

    Having the better fighters in a place that doesn’t do as good at creating stars…. And the lesser fighters in the star making channel…. Might have adverse effects for boxing.

    3) HBO pointed out that with Hopkins winning his last fight, that Don King no longer has a relevant fighter left.

    4) I would love to see HBO or Showtime create their own championship belts. F#ck the WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO system. HBO & Showtime have the power. They should operate like the UFC and create their own champions.

    • nottheface says:

      I think Showtime has done a pretty good job making stars the last few years. They made a bunch of stars out of the super 6 tournament – Ward, and Froch especially. They also made Abner Mares and put Brandon Rios over the top when they put him on as a headliner. Now lets see if they can do an even better job with bigger names on their channel.

      As for HBO or Showtime marketing their own belts, I think that might run afoul of the Mohammed Ali act which has some legalese separation between promoters and sanctioning bodies.

    • Rob Maysey says:

      Nay nay.

      HBO/Showtime would love to make their own belts–but that would make them officially promoters and sanctioning bodies. It is not going to happen.

      MMA was hijacked–the law. . . for whatever reason, was not applied the same.

  3. Steve4192 says:

    HBO was the place that made stars because they had the stars to build new stars with. Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather became huge stars by knocking off Oscar De La Hoya. The next generation of boxing stars will be made by knocking off Pac Man and Floyd. The network that happens on doesn’t really matter.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      But stars aren’t always made from the guy who beat the former star. In fact, the majority of the time the fighter who beats the star never gets the same sort of fame.

      • Mark says:

        Well, you have to have some kind of starpower to go along with the win. While that’s a sore subject for fight purists, it’s the God’s honest truth. The casual fans who make or break a buyrate need something to latch onto beyond talent.

        The problem is the victories are usually by guys uninterested in projecting charisma or promoting fights like the ones who they beat. Ask Tim Bradley.

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          There’s a lot of factors. However, if someone wants to name a big time star fighter who didn’t beat any other stars prior to becoming a draw, feel free to start up that giant list. Best I’ve got is JCC Jr., and that’s because of the guys his dad beat. Not a whole lot of those son types out there who ascend to such stardom in boxing history.

        • Mark says:

          You only have people who became famous before their accomplishments began, who got more spotlight than people who were winning more important fights at the time, because the media saw more story interest in the promise than the actual wins of the other guy. But it’s pretty much impossible to keep someone a star if they never win important fights at some point.

  4. Robert Poole says:

    According to what I read it’s not going to be TR exclusively on HBO. What I get from that is that they are going to bring in more DiBella, Main Event, TMT Promotions, ie everyone other than Golden Boy to help fill up cards.

    Golden Boy was trying to sell HBO Broner vs. soft opponents and wanted them to overpay for him (not unlike the mistakes made when they overpaid for Andre Berto’s early fights). The moves of GBP towards Showtime showed they weren’t going to give HBO their best fights and for that, HBO made the right move, IMO.

    Showtime’s ratings are much, much lower than HBOs and ultimately it’s going to hurt the visibility of the GBP fighters to lock themselves into this arrangement.

  5. Alan Conceicao says:

    What Hershman’s strategy resembles at the moment is pretty much identical to the way HBO has done business most of the last 15-20 years. They sign fighters to contracts, they approve fights for them brought by the promoter, they air them. This wasn’t a “all or nothing” ultimatum from GBP that spurred this, after all. I’d be more interested to hear how what Hershman is doing is unlike the way HBO has traditionally done business.

  6. liger05 says:

    Speaking of Berto, Al Haymon done wonders for him. How he got the purses he did is quite amazing. Still Berto must be kicking himself right now. Twice he was in line for the big payday v Floyd and twice he blew it!!

    • Tomer says:

      “How he got the purses he did is quite amazing.”

      Managing Floyd Mayweather Jr. does wonders for bargaining leverage (although that leverage is now gone since Floyd signed a six fight exclusive contract with Showtime, which was probably a significant factor in Hershman telling Schaefer to piss off).

  7. Carlos says:

    Mayweather is a huge statement of intent and with Canelo, Cotto, Mares, Ortiz, Garcia etc then in sure showtime will be the main be winners in this although not too sure its such a good move from GB

    Since the fella took over in 2011, showtime has been on the up whereas HBO has been in a steady decline. Pacquiao, Marquez and Martinez (Dibella but still HBO) are on the verge of retirement and while Rios, Ward (Goosens) Donaire are all good fighters they don’t have as big pulling power. JCC jr is the logical next star but he has bee exposed already and should he keep blocking with his face (same goes for Rios) he won’t have a long career anyway

    If boxing is shown on CBS (showtime sister Netwrok) you can imagine that the Showtimes viewers will continue to rise and mayweather alone should bring in fresh subscriptions

  8. […] HBO cut ties with Golden Boy and allowed GB to marry with Showtime, I wrote an article stating that it’s now Golden Boy & Showtime vs. HBO & The Field and that was Ken Hershman, the former Showtime boss, is doing at HBO is no different than what he […]


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