HBO Negotiating With UFC!
Will Boxing Be Phased Out?
Written By William Trillo
Allow me to qualify this article by saying I am the biggest and most diehard boxing fan you know. Over a period 8 hours, two separate, yet extremely similar issues have been put in front of me, and as much as I hate to say it....
Showtime announced via press release today that it had signed a deal with promoter Gary Shaw to air Mixed Martial Arts on the network, a move industry insiders said could mean a movement away from boxing.
But what could have a much greater impact on boxing was not announced, but is going on behind the scenes, and Pound4Pound/Boxing2006 has learned some very eye opening and exclusive news.
HBO and the king of MMA, The UFC, have been talking for three months now to bring the sport to the cable giant. It is believed that the move to air UFC is driven by HBO's parent company, Time Warner. If UFC comes to HBO and is successful, industry sources told Boxing.2006 that martial arts -- which is hugely popular with the prized 18-35 demographic -- might in a year or so cause boxing to be either cut back on the air, or phased out.
Well for starters we are nearing the end of 2006 and let's face it, this year has been less than a stellar one for both networks. I hate to say it, but it looks like the networks are down on boxing and now they are fishing. Fighters fail to make weight in Championship bouts and waste the suits' marketing money. The heavyweight division has been lackluster for years now and with no "Tysons" to make them money the penguins are set to look elsewhere, fact is they already are! There are very few real stars, and outside of Oscar De La Hoya, who in boxing has the appeal to draw 1 million $$ PPV buyers? No one! Mr. P4P Floyd is recent proof of that. Trust me, the suits at Showtime don't give a lick whether it makes its money from MMA or boxing.
Showtime cut loose an extraordinary talent in Jay Larkin. What does that tell you about their commitment to boxing. They are trying to show boxing on a shoestring and hope the MMA will help tighten things up.
So what of the 'Heart and Soul" of boxing then? That being HBO. Could they actually be losing money on their pride and joy? Why else would the suits at Time Warner be courting the UFC? Could the writing be on the wall? If today's news in any indication I must sadly admit that the answer could be a resounding yes!
Now before ya'll go running saying "Trillo has turned his back on boxing", let me tell you that is the furthest thing from the truth. First of all, have you ever seen a MMA or UFC report on this site? NO! Trust me, you won't anytime soon. If you want the latest UFC report you will have to go to that money hoarding fight site who are only there for the coin and have little or no interest in you or that sport, if they did they would have already told you what we are telling you now.
No, this is a call to arms boxing. It's really time to clean up your act.
How many more times are fans going to stand for fighters throwing away their belts because they are too busy too make weight. How many more times will fans pay 50 bucks to see the self proclaimed best fighter in the World run around in circles for 12 rounds and then tell you he just painted a masterpiece. How many more times do we have to watch John Ruiz fight for yet another title eliminator hoping above all hope he won't win because another Valuev/Ruiz battle will make us slit our own throats?
Here's what you do boxing honchos... Unify the heavyweight belts now, it's the only battles in that division anyone wants to see. Come down hard on anyone who doesn't make weight for their Championship bout, I am talking huge million dollar fines and 2 year suspensions. Go back to same day weigh-ins and let Welterweights fight as Welterweights, not under nourished lightweights. Every fight is not a PPV extravaganza. No one should ever have to pay to see Roy Jones fight again. Evander Holyfield vs. Fres Oquendo is ......ugh....do I need to say more?
Today's findings that both boxing cable networks are ready to make a move makes one thing perfectly clear, the manly art of self defense has taken a beating this year, and with that, the Networks have been hit hard in their wallets. The suits don't care how they make their money, and if boxing isn't going to fill their pockets anymore you can rest assured they will look elsewhere. In fact they already are.
Consider yourselves warned!
Questions or Comments? Please Contact Will "The Thrill" Trillo