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HBO cuts ties with boxing’s Golden Boy Promotions

Earthquakes aren’t the sole domain of California. They can take place in New York, too.

Monday in Manhattan, HBO made news that shook the boxing world to its core as it announced it was no longer doing business with Los Angeles-based Golden Boy Promotions, effective immediately. The move creates an even wider chasm within the sportj, as Golden Boy has been doing more and more business with HBO’s rival network Showtime since Stephen Espinoza, a former attorney for Golden Boy, took over that network in November 2011. HBO has 30 million subscribers compared with Showtime’s 22 million.

“In order to achieve our goal of the best fighters in the most compelling matchups, we’ve decided to focus our efforts and resources on those strategic relationships where we better share common goals and business philosophies,” HBO Sports president Ken Hershman said in a statement.

Golden Boy chief executive officer Richard Schaefer said he wasn’t surprised by the news.

“Honestly? No, I’m not surprised,” he said. “I haven’t talked to Ken Hershman since November or December. But I think it’s an ill-advised strategy. The biggest losers are HBO’s subscribers. They want to see the best fights and the best fighters, and that won’t be possible now.”

The timing of HBO’s decision to take a hiatus from doing business with Golden Boy is interesting. HBO has been showcasing lightweight champion Adrien Broner and light heavyweight champ Bernard Hopkins — two of Golden Boy’s most recognizable names — on its telecasts the past few years. Broner has referred to himself on Twitter as “Mr. HBO Boxing.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s recent decision to align himself with Showtime after fighting his entire career on HBO also might have had something to do with HBO’s decision. Mayweather, who is not promoted by Golden Boy but enjoys a working relationship with Oscar De La Hoya’s company, recently signed a six-fight deal with Showtime.

“Obviously, HBO is upset over losing some of the big names, most notably, Floyd,” Schaefer said. “But they’ll have to live with that and so will we. But I’m not going to say anything negative about HBO. I wish them well.”

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, whose company is Golden Boy’s main rival, said he supports HBO’s decision.

“HBO can buy from whoever they want,” Arum said. “We’re proud to be a supplier to HBO, and if we can continue to provide fights like Saturday’s, we’ll have a long, healthy relationship.”
Arum was referring to WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley Jr.’s narrow 12-round unanimous decision over Ruslan Provodnikov that was televised on HBO.

HBO is scheduled to telecast several Top Rank cards in the coming weeks, beginning with the March 30 rematch between junior welterweights Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado from Mandalay Bay. In addition, HBO will televise Diego Magdaleno’s title shot against WBO super featherweight champion Rocky Martinez on April 6 from Macau and the April 13 WBO super bantamweight title fight between Nonito Donaire and Guillermo Rigondeaux in New York.

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

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