Oh the memes flew on the Internets today. Some of them funny, too. Oh, maybe they weren’t wildly amusing to some folks. Not sure how hard some people were laughing in the leadup to the unveiling of Al’s Grand Plan, the boxing is back on primetime plan hatched between Al Haymon and NBC. Now, if you got your news and opinion from Twitter, you probably thought that Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza was on this day spending it weepy, inconsolable, having conceded that Haymon’s plan to stage 20 shows on and with NBC, 11 this year, five of them on NBC proper, in prime time blew up his spot as helmer of Sho’s boxing program.
Only, it’s not so.
TSS got some lowdown from the boxing boss, before he jetted to Vegas, from NYC, to get into the mix for his net’s Saturday card, which is topped by a heavyweight title tangle, between Bermane Stiverne and long, tall bomber Deontay Wilder, a greenish but intriguing (drink!) specimen who just might be able to ignite a spark in a spark-free division, if his pop can drop the Haitian born hitter.
Espinoza, he says, sees the Al on NBC plan as a “positive” and refuted the notion that Haymon sprang the plan on him, and spirited away fighters built on Sho for the last couple years, including Keith Thurman, Robert Guerrero, Adrian Broner and Danny Garcia.
He was consulted and, in fact, was offered the first right of refusal, and could’ve, he said, declined to have those guys appear on NBC as is planned, on March 7 and April 11.
Instead, he said, he took a bigger picture view, and gave the go ahead, to allow them to “benefit from the greater exposure on network TV.”
I know, complicated stuff, semi surprising, right? Showtime is a CBS entity, while NBC…isn’t. But the game’s a changing, bigtime, and proof positive is that Haymon is doing a “time buy,” essentially using a near informercial setup, which allows him to showcase his product…but instead of furnishing a 1-800 number, he can sell the ad time. Wise guys might say there’s only so many purveyors of beard dye to sell ads to, but Haymon has been called the smartest man that many folks in boxing have ever dealt with…so I don’t bet against that.
The NBC gigs will “elevate those fighters,” in Espinoza’s mind, and crucially, he noted they can and will “return to Showtime in the near future.”
So much for the memes featuring a weeping and/or ballistic exec crying in his Cheerios or hurling eye daggers at Haymon….
Fanbases can be expanded and new fans can be lured to the party, he thinks and hopes. I know, weird talk coming from within this dog eat dog world, where it’s every man for himself, all too often…But Espinoza believes that all can share in the bounty if Haymon’s gambit achieves liftoff and can stay erect and generate revenue enough to sustain purses and, perhaps, pay back his investors who are backing the venture. Espinoza says the deepness of their roster and fighters available to them will make Sho subscribers who wait a bit longer satisfied that their fees are well spent. Reading between the lines, I think we see fights announced PERHAPS before February arrives.
Listen, Haymon plays it closer to the vest more so than anyone with his level of power has EVER played it, arguably…so I think it’s fair to say that very few people knew what he was planning…and what other shoes would drop where. I didn’t ask how much Espinoza knew of Haymon’s plan and when he learned of it…but it feels to me like he seems confident that things will be A-OK with his program, and he’s looking forward to a solid 2015.
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