NEW YORK — Peter Quillin sat on a dais late Saturday night with a toothy smile and hardly a scratch on his face. Hours earlier, Quillin, the undefeated WBO middleweight champion, the charismatic transplanted Brooklynite who has made the Barclays Center his new home, defended his title, stopping Fernando Guerrero in the seventh round. At 29, Quillin is a fighter with a bright future. Or at least he should be.
Posts Tagged ‘HBO’
If you are familiar with the boxing industry, the following sentence will sound strange: Ross Greenburg is working for Showtime.
Greenburg, of course, was the President of HBO Sports from 2000 to 2011 — and an executive producer at the network for nearly two decades before that — before being forced out in the summer of 2011. With Showtime, Greenburg will produce a one-hour documentary that will air on CBS chronicling the last year in the life of Floyd Mayweather, including his time in prison. In addition, Greenburg will work on Showtime’s All Access reality show, a carbon copy of the the 24/7 series Greenburg created at HBO in 2007, that will air in the weeks leading up to Mayweather’s fight against Robert Guerrero on May 4th.
“This has always been in my blood,” Greenburg told SI.com. “I have always been a producer at heart. I love telling stories. It’s refreshing. There are not a lot of headaches. I didn’t have to put out too many fires. I really enjoyed the people I work with.”
Since leaving HBO, Greenburg has worked closely with NBC, producing documentaries on Earl Campbell (which was nominated for a Sports Emmy), the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union, the 1952 U.S. Open and the 1991 Ryder Cup. Greenburg also worked on Costas Tonight on NBC Sports Network — including Mayweather’s appearance on the show last year — and consulted for the NHL, Discovery Channel and Under Armour.
Now, Greenburg is back in boxing, working with the archrival of the network that he had a big hand in turning into a powerhouse.
“I guess I feel like [Kevin] Youkilis and [Johnny] Damon going into the [Yankees] locker room,” Greenburg said. “I’m just interested in helping [Showtime Executive Vice President] Stephen [Espinoza] as much as I can. It’s been very easy for me. They have welcomed me like family. It’s like Jeter putting arm around Youkilis. I’m back doing what I want to do. I have to take care of my family. I’ll always remember and cherish the glorious past. I had a wonderful 33 years [at HBO].”
It’s been comfortable for Greenburg to work with Mayweather, who he maintained a close relationship with during his time with HBO. And despite the fact that since Mayweather became a star on 24/7 in 2007 his story has been told repeatedly, Greenburg believes the events of the last year have left a rich tale to tell.
“There is the evolving relationship between Floyd, Roger [Mayweather] and Floyd Sr.,” Greenburg said. “Floyd himself spent 62 days in solitary. It changed his whole point of view on life. We spent the last three or four days with Floyd in the gym. Floyd and Roger are both there. Floyd Sr. is very involved. It’s an interesting evolution of that relationship. Floyd and his father are very close. The time he spent in prison did change him.”
Greenburg wouldn’t say if his relationship with Showtime could last beyond this fight (“We’ll see,” Greenburg said) but said he had no regrets about his time at HBO.
“No, not at all,” Greenburg said. “I did my job. The HBO sports department is something I will always remember. I think we built a hell of a franchise and a brand. The boxing program when I left it was as strong as it ever was. I have no regrets whatsoever. I took a lot of criticism, most of it unwarranted, but that is OK. I’m a big boy. I’ll pick myself back up. I have so many great memories. All fond memories.”
Well, almost all. Greenburg admits he still wishes he could have made the mega fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
“It’s funny, there weren’t that many times that I couldn’t make a fight,” Greenburg said. “I tried twice and got very close. To this day, I’m not going to put the blame on anyone because I couldn’t figure out why it didn’t happen. But I think boxing can recover. It didn’t happen, and it was not meant to be. It’s unfortunate because it probably would have been an epic buildup, even though I’m not sure it would have been a good fight. I know Floyd has moved on. He continues to be asked about Pacquiao and his attitude is much like mine, that if it was meant to be, fine. He believes his third act, over the next couple of years, is going to be special.”
– Chris Mannix
For the last year, HBO has watched as Golden Boy Promotions has moved many of its top fighters from HBO to Showtime. On Monday, HBO struck back: The network announced that it would no longer buy any fights from Golden Boy Promotions.
“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.
The decision is a decisive move from HBO to strike back at Golden Boy. Since Stephen Espinoza — a former Golden Boy attorney — took over as the head of the sports department at Showtime, Golden Boy has pulled several of its top fighters including Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Canelo Alavarez and Andre Berto off of HBO and onto Showtime. Last month, Floyd Mayweather — who works closely with Golden Boy —announced he was leaving HBO, his broadcast partner for virtually his entire career, to sign a lucrative deal with Showtime.
Among the casualties of HBO’s decision is Adrien Broner, a rising star who has been a staple on HBO. HBO sources made it clear that it was nothing against Broner, but they will not put him on the network as long as Golden Boy represents him. Likewise for Bernard Hopkins, a longtime HBO fighter who last week became the oldest man to win a major title when he defeated Tavoris Cloud on HBO.
The decision to stop doing business with Golden Boy is being called indefinite.
Golden Boy CEO called the decision “retaliation” and “ill advised.”
I’m not really surprised,” Schaefer told SI.com. “I have not had a conversation with Ken Hershman since last November or December. They are upset at me, I’m sure they are upset at Al Haymon. But the ones getting hurt are the subscribers. Whether you like Golden Boy or you don’t, our stable is second to none. I wished them well. (HBO Vice President) Kery Davis, (VP) Mart Taffet, (CEO) Richard Plepler, I consider them friends. But there are people making decisions in the HBO sports department that don’t know the difference between Floyd Mayweather and Jessie Vargas.”
— Chris Mannix
NEW YORK — Over the last year, Keith Thurman has become a poster boy for what’s wrong with boxing. Here was a young, unknown, inexperienced prospect with no resumé to speak of being gift wrapped prime HBO slots. Why? Because his manager is Al Haymon, the shadowy power broker who networks bend over backwards to appease. When Thurman was added to a show, promoters and managers howled at the unfairness of it.
On Saturday, Thurman (19-0) is back on the network, matched up with Jan Zaveck (32-2) on the undercard of Tavoris Cloud’s light heavyweight title defense against Bernard Hopkins at the Barclays Center (9:30 ET, HBO). It will be his third straight fight on HBO and while Thurman says he understands the criticism of him, he believes his performances–back-to-back knockouts–should be weighed into opinions.
“To a certain extent [the criticism] is fair because people didn’t know much about me,” Thurman told SI.com. “But I’m a rare fighter. I’m 19-0 with 18 knockouts. The reason I’m on HBO is because I have knockout potential. I’m here to give everybody a great, tremendous fight. I’m always trying to dismantle my opponent. That deserves respect.”
“My plan is to gather as many fans with every fight, to get more respect with every fight and more recognition. Pretty soon, we’re going to turn some of the critics. I believe I do belong here.”
Some quick jabs …
• I’m told HBO is now considering two possible opponents for Gennady Golovkin’s Jan. 19 middleweight title defense: Fernando Guerrero, a one-time prospect who is represented by Al Haymon, and Gabriel Rosado, a rising junior middleweight who is currently the IBF’s mandatory challenger for Cornelius “K9″ Bundrage’s title. To me, the decision is an easy one: Guerrero — who beat Rosado in a controversial eight-round middleweight fight in 2009 — has done nothing recently to warrant this kind of opportunity. Rosado, meanwhile, beat three quality opponents in 2012, all on NBC Sports Network, all by knockout. Rosado is the definition of a television-friendly fighter. A matchup with Golovkin would be a war.
• Super featherweight Teon Kennedy’s injury forced Main Events to find a new opponent for undefeated prospect Jerry Belmontes in the co-feature of the Dec. 8 card on NBC Sports Network. On Monday they announced that Eric Hunter (16-2) would step in. Hunter has been on the shelf for most of the last two years, fighting once (last July) since December of 2010.
• Kudos to Seth Mitchell for accomplishing a lot in boxing despite not picking up the gloves until he was 24. But this experiment is probably over. You can’t teach a chin and in his last two fights Mitchell has been buzzed by Chazz Witherspoon and knocked out in two rounds by Johnathan Banks. There are things Mitchell can do to improve — he still has no idea how to hold when he gets hurt — but if light hitters like Witherspoon and Banks can wobble him, he’s a sitting duck for one of the Klitschko brothers.
• Speaking of Banks: I’d like to see him face one more quality opponent before looking for a fight with Wladimir or Vitali Klitschko. A matchup with Tyson Fury, David Price or his preferred choice, Alexander Povetkin, next year could make Banks some money and, if he wins, give him some momentum heading into a major title fight.
• I’m looking forward to Miguel Cotto-Austin Trout on Dec. 1 at Madison Square Garden, but that undercard is horrendous. Jayson Velez and Danny Jacobs — questionable choices for a televised undercard to begin with — will fight separately on Showtime’s broadcast in fights that do nothing for me. Velez (19-0) will face Salvador Sanchez II (30-4-3), nephew of Mexican legend Salvador Sanchez, while Jacobs (23-1), the former prospect and cancer survivor who will fight for the second time in three months, gets Chris Fitzpatrick (15-2).
• I don’t know what has gotten into Carl Froch, but after another impressive knockout — this one over handpicked challenger Yusaf Mack — I just don’t know how Lucian Bute can beat him. Froch is just too strong.
• Bring on Adrien Broner-Ricky Burns.
• Thank you, Fred Sternburg, for sending out 400 emails letting everyone know that Manny Pacquiao gave away free turkeys last week. My overflowing inbox extends its regards.
• Hey British promoter Frank Maloney: Your comment that Wladimir Klitschko would be happy not to have to pay Emanuel Steward his 10 percent after a one-sided win over Mariusz Wach last week was disgusting and classless. Steward, a longtime mentor and trainer for Klitschko, lost a battle with cancer last month. Maloney should be ashamed.
– Chris Mannix
Is Adrien Broner boxing’s next superstar?
CHRIS MANNIX: Color me impressed. There has been something about Broner that didn’t sit right with me — maybe it was the connection to Al Haymon, who puffed up Broner’s record by keeping him away from the toughest challenges for most of his young career — but after that pounding of DeMarco, there is no doubt Broner is a bona fide star in the sport. DeMarco is an underrated fighter and an excellent finisher, and Broner picked him apart, savaging him with uppercuts, patiently peppering him with jabs while utilizing that (wait for it) shoulder-roll defense to deflect DeMarco’s power shots.
Broner was already a television star; he has the HBO numbers to prove it. Now he has earned his status in the ring, too. Let’s hope he keeps it going. Ricky Burns, who will defend his version of the lightweight title on Dec. 15, is a logical next opponent, and there are no shortage of guys at 140 pounds to give Broner a fight. Finally, a young American star who seems worthy of the hype.
RICHARD O’BRIEN: After an impressive and, on his part, decidedly relaxed dismantling of DeMarco on Saturday night (it was more like watching an enthusiastic technician entering code on a keyboard than it was like seeing a guy actually fighting), Broner declared himself “the new era of boxing.” That remains to be seen, of course.
Certainly Broner, at 23, and clearly comfortable having stepped up to the 135-pound limit, has the physical gifts (speed, strength, power) and the schooling (he’s technically very sound, with a varied offense and a polished defense) to make him, well, a problem for any fighter in the lightweight or junior welterweight divisions. (A quick assault on Juan Manuel Marquez or Ricky Burns would be a great start.) The question, of course, is how far can he extend his effectiveness. At 5-foot-7, Broner may be a bit too compact to keep moving up, to junior welter, welter and beyond. And multiple titles and challenges to the best across a range of weight classes are what make for the biggest stars in boxing.
At the same time, I also think there’s the danger that Broner could get pegged — or, indeed, could peg himself — as a kind of poor man’s Money, a Mayweather clone, and that such an image could keep him from becoming the star he could be. There’s the physical resemblance, of course, and the shoulder-rolling defense (and the smirking and self-celebratory rhetoric), but Broner has a natural aggressiveness in the ring that Mayweather has seldom shown. He would be wise to play that element up. A boxing public weary of Mayweather’s slick showmanship would welcome a supremely talented champion who actually came to fight. If Broner does that, superstardom should be no problem.
BRYAN ARMEN GRAHAM: Broner is now a two-division world champion at 23. He’s 25-0 with 21 knockouts. He just cracked SI.com’s pound-for-pound list at No. 12. On Saturday, he made his seventh appearance on HBO and his headlining debut on the flagship “World Championship Boxing” franchise: He took a step up, both competitively and commercially, and he dominated.
He is opinionated. He is eccentric. (Quite eccentric.) Call him cocky and call him profane, but Broner gets it. It’s not enough to be Andre Ward, not if you want to be the first boxer to generate a billion dollars, which is Broner’s articulated goal. “I’m not just a professional boxer, I am a professional entertainer too,” he said over lunch in Manhattan last month. “Since the first grade I’ve been a class clown. This is just me.”
Broner is coming along at a time when boxing needs fresh stars, with Floyd Mayweather (35 years old) and Manny Pacquiao (34 next month) nearing the twilights of their careers. He’s managed by Al Haymon, the enigmatic force responsible for making Mayweather the richest athlete in sports. The heavyweight division remains stagnant and domestically irrelevant. HBO has invested millions in building him up and they’re enthused by the return thus far. “He’s making the progression that great fighters make,” HBO’s pay-per-view chief Mark Taffet said last month. “He’s on the path. For a 23-year-old man, he’s exactly where he needs to be.” If he stays hungry, keeps winning and keeps entertaining, there’s no reason why Broner can’t be one of the top names in boxing within the next three years.
The ongoing feud between Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and Bob Arum’s Top Rank has stood in the way of countless potential fights. Prime examples include junior welterweights Lucas Matthysse and Brandon Rios, middleweights Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Saul Alvarez and, most recently, super bantamweights Abner Mares and Nonito Donaire.
On Saturday, Mares (24-0-1) will defend his WBC title against Anselmo Moreno (33-1-1) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (10 p.m. ET, Showtime). And let’s be honest: Very few people care. It’s hard enough to get average fans interested in the 122-pound division, even harder when they know it’s not even the best fight they could be seeing.
The best fight is Mares-Donaire, which would feature the two unquestioned top dogs in the super bantamweight division. Mares is slick and skilled, the winner of Showtime’s bantamweight tournament who has been picking off top opponents for the last two years. Donaire, who dominated Japan’s Toshiaki Nishioka last month, blends power and speed better than anyone in the division.
On a recent conference call, Mares expressed interest in making a Donaire fight.
“All I can say is Nonito, he’s a great fighter,” Mares said. “He’s really, really explosive, a really great fighter. His last performance against Nishioka, I mean the fight was a little bit, you could say boring at the beginning but being that Nishioka wasn’t throwing that much, he wasn’t giving that much. Nonito found a way and took his time and got that knockout. He looked good.
“If I were to fight him, obviously I’d fight him different and it would be a great fight. I know and I’ve seen that people want that fight. They’ve been asking for that fight and they know that I could give them a hell of a fight and definitely beat him as well. But again, that’s in the future, first things first.”
There are no reasonable excuses for not making Mares-Donaire. Both fighters are experienced champions who are ready for the best fight out there. Both are marketable to networks — Mares to Showtime, Donaire to HBO — and both have developed a following over the last two years.
The only excuse is that representatives from Golden Boy and Top Rank don’t want to be in the same room together. And that’s not good enough. Because only the diehards will watch Mares-Moreno, just like only the diehards watched Donaire-Nishioka.
You want to build an audience, give them something worth watching.
– Chris Mannix
NEW YORK – Adrien Broner didn’t back down from his recent comments that African-American fighters don’t get enough credit Wednesday at HBO’s midtown headquarters.
The former WBO junior lightweight champion said he was unaware of the backlash stemming from an interview with Ring Magazine, where he intimated that African-American boxers are held to a harsher standard than fighters of other racial backgrounds.
“I was telling the truth,” the 23-year-old Broner said. “It’s something that I know. It’s something that I’ve seen. That’s why I work so hard. One mistake and I can fall so far.”
Broner, who is moving up to fight WBC lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco on Nov. 17 in Atlantic City, said black fighters don’t enjoy the same brand of unconditional support as fighters from other races.
“African-American [fans], we really don’t follow each other in boxing as much as the Hispanics, the Mexicans, the Puerto Ricans,” Broner said. “I’m just saying, they support their fighters. It’s so hard for us to support our own because coming up where we come from, they don’t want to see the next man doing better than them. That’s just how it is. I’m so used to it. I really don’t let it get to me.”
Broner said he was disappointed with how the comments were packaged.
“It’s like a lot of writers do, they mix it up,” Broner said. ”The way he wrote it up, he was saying it like I was a racist or something.”
Broner (24-0, 20 KOs), who became the youngest American world champion with a third-round knockout of Martin Rodriguez in 2011, has long been considered one of the sport’s most promising young stars. He drew a 3.4 rating and 1.4 million live viewers for a July 21 knockout of Vincente Escobedo, HBO’s top-rated Boxing After Dark telecast of 2012. When asked what he could do to improve the disconnect between African-American boxers and fight fans, Broner — no stranger to Mayweather-style showmanship — was quick to respond.
“We just have to connect with them,” he said. “They want to see excitement. They want to laugh. They don’t want to just go in and see a bloodbath boxing match. They want to be entertained and that’s what I give them. I’m not just a professional boxer, I am a professional entertainer too. I love to entertain.”
– Bryan Armen Graham
Timothy Bradley will defend the WBO welterweight title he won from Manny Pacquiao on Dec. 15 at Marlins Park in Miami.
While an opponent has yet to be officially signed for the HBO-televised fight, former welterweight titleholder Andre Berto has emerged as the most probable candidate.
“We’re trying to lock in Berto,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told SI.com on Friday. “HBO is working on it right now. If all things come together over the next couple days that’s what we’re looking at.”
Bradley (29-0-0, 12 KOs), currently No. 8 in SI.com’s pound-for-pound ratings, won a highly controversial split decision over Pacquiao on June 9 to capture the title. The Palm Springs, Calif., native has since recovered from injuries to his left foot and right ankle sustained in the fight.
“From a dates point of view it works out OK for him,” Moretti said.
Berto (28-1-0, 22 KOs) won the WBC welterweight title with a technical knockout of Miguel Angel Rodriguez in June 2008, making five successful defenses before losing it to Victor Ortiz in April 2011. That bout was widely regarded as a Fight of the Year candidate, prompting a much-anticipated rematch scheduled for June 23 in Los Angeles.
But the Miami native tested positive for the steroid norandrosterone in May and was dropped from the card. Berto has since had his license reinstated by the California State Athletic Commission.
Interestingly, Bradley and Berto faced off previously at the 2003 National Golden Gloves championships in Las Vegas, where Berto earned a unanimous decision in the junior middleweight final to win a national title and place in the Olympic trials.
– Bryan Armen Graham
The numbers are in for last weekend’s fight between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez, and they are big: According to HBO, Chavez-Martinez generated an estimated 475,000 pay-per-view buys and $24 million in revenue.
The numbers — which will likely grow once all the figures are reported — vastly exceed the promoter’s and the network’s expectations of 250,000 buys.
Both Chavez and Martinez have expressed interest in a rematch. That rematch will likely be delayed at least a year however, after Chavez tested positive for marijuana after the fight and will face a lengthy suspension.
– Chris Mannix