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The Showtime Shuffle

(Stephen Espinoza)
(Stephen Espinoza)


This much is clear; Showtime, which has an eventful 2013, will end the year with a pair of boxing broadcasts in December. It’s just a matter of who will be appearing on those shows.
 
Stephen Espinoza, Executive VP and General Manager of Showtime Sports and Event Programming, told Maxboxing on Friday afternoon, “We’ve got a couple of things that are in the final stages. There’s been a lot of musical chairs with our dates on December the 7th and 14th. We know, for the most part, [Adrien] Broner-[Marcos] Maidana is done and then we’re filling out separate dates on the seventh and the undercard there. And literally the two dates have virtually been set and then something happens and everything gets reshuffled again. So I’m not trying to be intentionally vague but I could have called you five times in the last week and said, ‘Here’s the card’ and each time, it would’ve changed the next time.

“But I think we’ll be able to finalize the pay-per-view and the December 7th date hopefully soon.”
 
There had been plans to broadcast a card from San Antonio, Texas on November 30th featuring Leo Santa Cruz and Alfredo Angulo but Espinoza stated, “That’s a little bit iffier so I’m not sure that’s going to come together as a separate date or whether it’ll just be consolidated onto the seventh or the 14th.”
 
There is a good probability that Santa Cruz, a fan-favorite, will be shifted to the pay-per-view card on December 14th, which will take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
 
Does any of this shifting of dates and fighters have anything to do with counter-programming from their rivals at HBO?
 
Espinoza answers, “Look, they’ve certainly counter-programmed throughout the year. I think their schedule here, the consecutive weeks of programming to some extent, is partially due to some postponements and then partially strategic. So the reality is they want to go on however many straight weeks at the end of the year; that’s their choice. But I don’t think it was necessarily counter-programming because we really didn’t have a lot of dates set when they announced it this late.”
 
Speaking of which, while HBO is going on an unprecedented run of boxing broadcasts this fall from mid-September to December, they will only have one card on their schedule, the tripleheader featuring Bernard Hopkins-Karo Murat, Peter Quillin-Gabe Rosado and Deontay Wilder-Nicholas Firtha from Atlantic City.
 
Espinoza says he would prefer not to invest so much of his budget during football season.
 
“And this year in particular,” says Espinoza, who attended both Stanford and UCLA and has an interest in the sport, “if you would have asked me that question last year, I might have given you a different answer but this is the first college football season in which you have multiple free-TV networks doing prime time games on Saturday night. We have CBS, Fox and I think there’s even an NBC game or two and ABC all at various points in the fall doing prime time Saturday night games.
 
“That hasn’t been the case in the past. Last year, there were one, maybe two. Now it’s a fairly consistent practice. That’s not from my perspective-wise to go up against two free-TV networks airing some of the biggest college football games of the year. For example, CBS on November 9th has Alabama-LSU in prime time. Historically, that game has gotten as much as 20, 22 million viewers. I don’t think it’s wise to go up against that kind of programming, particularly with anything expensive.
 
“So yes, when we planned 2013, the fourth quarter was going to be intentionally light to avoid those kinds of conflicts. I’m much more in favor of going when the sports calendar is lighter. It’s not just college football because there’s ultimately going to be basketball, which is going to be starting relatively soon. Hockey has already started and then you’re already fighting for media space with the NFL juggernaut. 
 
“So it’s not optimal, I think, to have heavy programming in the schedule during the fall.”

EAR TO THE GROUND

What I’ve heard is that Alfredo Angulo will be moved over to the December 14th card (a possible foe is Puerto Rico’s Jorge Melendez) and the fight between welterweights Keith “San Diego” Thurman and the resurgent Jesus Soto Karass (which was talked about as part of that pay-per-view card) will be moved up to a week before in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. There are still efforts to make an all-Brooklyn showdown between Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi to headline that night.

The return of Victor Ortiz is also being kicked around for the pay-per-view show.
 
 
Steve can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and he tweets at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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