TV executive not sure PPV record in jeopardy


The big news that Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse will meet on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight Sept. 14 at the MGM Grand Garden has boxing people believing the pay-per-view record of 2.5 million buys set in 2007 when Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya is in jeopardy.

But Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza, whose company will televise the card, isn’t sure Garcia-Matthysse gives the card enough of a boost to guarantee a PPV record will be set.

“If you’re a fight fan, you’re buying the fight anyway,” Espinoza said Friday. “What it does is it makes it a more enjoyable event, and it is an investment in the future of boxing.”

Espinoza, Showtime’s executive vice president for sports, said he initially was skeptical of the idea of adding such a big fight to a megafight like Mayweather-Alvarez because of the costs. But after Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, Mayweather and his co-manager Leonard Ellerbe ran the scenario by him, he was on board.

“It’s about growing the sport,” he said. “A lot of people who aren’t normally boxing fans are going to watch Floyd. This is an opportunity to convert them into boxing fans.”

Mayweather said a good card always sells. “It’s always good to have a solid card from top to bottom,” he said.

But will the 2.5 million PPV record Mayweather set in 2007 against De La Hoya be broken?

“I don’t know if we’ll ever reach that level again,” Espinoza said. “In a lot of ways, Oscar vs. Floyd was the perfect storm. But if any fight can do it, this one can.”

■ SULLIVAN’S NEW GIG — Molly Sullivan is branching out from basketball and into boxing.

The Green Valley High graduate who works for Comcast as a sideline reporter on Philadelphia 76ers telecasts has been hired by Top Rank to report on the company’s promotions.

“Growing up in Las Vegas, I know how important boxing is,” Sullivan said. “I was told Top Rank was looking to expand their coverage, and I’m very excited about this opportunity.”

Sullivan, who will remain with the Sixers, replaces Crystina Poncher, who took a job with the NFL Network.

“Am I a boxing expert? No way,” Sullivan said. “I’m going to try to bring a fresh perspective and find the interesting stories that are out there. It’s going to be fun.”

■\u2007VERA EXCITED — While some in boxing are fixated on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s return to the ring Sept. 7, his opponent is planning on spoiling the party.

“A win will turn my whole career around and change my life,” Brian Vera said.

Vera (23-6, 14 knockouts), who has been training in Houston with Ronnie Shields for the 168-pound 12-round bout at Staples Center in Los Angeles, said he’s already got the jump on Chavez (46-1-1, 32 KOs).

“I’m going to make everyone proud,” Vera said.

Chavez will return to the ring for the first time since losing his WBC middleweight title to Sergio Martinez on Sept. 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center. He tested positive for marijuana following the fight, and the Nevada Athletic Commission suspended him for nine months. His initial $900,000 fine was reduced last month to $100,000.

■ NEVADA BOXING HALL INDUCTEES COMMIT — With its inaugural induction ceremony at the Monte Carlo three weeks away, the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame has received confirmation from three high-profile inductees.

Boxers Larry Holmes and Julio Cesar Chavez along with referee Mills Lane have said they will attend. Lane recently was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and, despite health issues from a 2002 stroke, will make it to Las Vegas from his home in Reno.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

 

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