Espinoza Open For Relationship With Arum & ESPN
In December, Bob Arum made it known that he would be more than open to help facilitate “mutually beneficial” deals between his current rights holder, ESPN and Showtime to televise fights that feature fighters aligned with both platforms.
Stephen Espinoza, the executive vice president and general manager for Showtime Sports, said in an interview that while there are no current plans to meet with Arum, but that he is open to doing so when the time is right.
“At a certain level, anything’s worth a conversation, particularly if there’s a way to get big fights done or interesting fights done,” Espinoza said.
“At a certain point, though, if I look at Keith Thurman or Errol Spence or Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia, for that matter, they’ve got a lot of potential fights lined up. They’ve got a lot of unfinished business without thinking about having to go over to another network to fight.
“Look, if fights present themselves that make sense, we’ll have the discussion. But not only do we have guys with full dance cards, it’s not always as simple as trading fighters. It’s not like trading baseball cards or Pokemon cards. When you’ve put a lot of time and energy and financial investment into developing a group of fighters, or a particular fighter, only to see that fighter go somewhere else for a potentially career-defining fight, it’s tough to sort of identify something that is similarly valuable in return. It’s not just, ‘Here are two similarly known boxers. Let’s trade them.’ It’s not quite as simple as it may seem. But having said all of that, there are always challenges to making deals. If there’s a fight and there’s a demand for it, then we’ll do everything we can to make it happen, as long as it’s under reasonable business conditions and we’re getting value for what we’ve put into the development of the opportunity.”
While Arum and Espinoza have had a rocky relationship in the past due to Top Rank being on HBO up until the ESPN deal, both seem to be amenable to working together, and did so for the Mayweather- Pacquiao fight in 2015.
Nevertheless, ESPN and Showtime would have to work together if Top Rank’s Crawford and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence, or WBA/WBC welterweight champ Keith Thurman who work with Premier Boxing Champions, who have a relationship with Showtime.
“We’ll keep an eye on Terence Crawford,” Espinoza said.
“To me, there’s an open question there. He’s a really talented fighter, but he’s in a new weight class. So before anyone’s rushing to ask him to fight Keith Thurman or Errol Spence, I think we’re all curious to see how he does in the new weight class. There are conversations to be had probably over time. There haven’t been conversations in the recent past, but we’re open to them.”
Crawford, the mandatory challenger for the WBO welterweight championship, is expected to challenge Australia’s Jeff Horn for that title sometime in April in Las Vegas.