In a major move within the boxing and distribution communities that strikes a body blow to its premium channel rival, Floyd “Money” Mayweather has inked a long-term pact with Showtime Networks and its parent CBS Corp. that could cover up to six pay-per-view bouts over the next 30 months.
The contract, a revenue-sharing arrangement, begins with his May 4 bout with Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, 31-1-1. The deal with the 43-0 Mayweather, who many regard as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, calls for Showtime to collaborate with parent CBS Corp. on expansive promotion for the bouts across multiple platforms.
Showtime, which would not comment on deal specifics, indicates that should Mayweather, 35, battle six times, it would yield the richest individual athlete deal in all of sports.
Landing Mayweather represents a major coup for Showtime against HBO, which for the most part has been the primary PPV boxing outlet for boxing over the past decade.
"We made an aggressive and responsible pay-per-view. Now we move on," said an HBO spokesman. "We are focused on the best boxing franchise in the television business. We are proud of the roster of superstar fighters and emerging stars who are scheduled to appear on the multiple HBO television platforms this year."
Showtime, though, has stepped through the PPV boxing ropes over the past two years: It scored with the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga and the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley PPV contests in 2011 and notched 1.04 million buys for last year's Canelo Alvarez-Josesito Lopez super welterweight championship fight on Sept. 15. That was a Showtime record for a boxing card, according to network officials.
For the most part, though, HBO has ruled the PPV ring, including last year when it distributed a pair matches resulting in Pacquiao losses -- a controversial decision against Timothy Bradley Jr. and the Filipino's knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth encounter on Dec. 8. HBO PPV also aired the May 5 Mayweather-Miguel Cotto fight that generated 1.4 million buys, in what was “Money’s” last brawl before he served a jail sentence last summer for threatening his ex-girlfriend.
An eight-time world champion, Mayweather, who has drawn 1 million buys in each of his last four bouts, said earlier he would look to fight in May and September of 2013.
Following his back-to-back losses, Pacquiao might need to take a tune-up match on one of the premium channels, before climbing back inside PPV's square circle.
What the new Showtime-CBS pact might mean for any potential lucrative Mayweather-Pacquiao matchup -- which has been derailed by acrimony between the camps and disagreements over methodology for blood testing -- is unclear.
However, published reports suggest that in a battle of unbeatens, Alvarez (41-0-1) may fight Austin Trout (26-0) on the Mayweather-Guerrero undercard. Should Alvarez and Mayweather prevail on May 4, they could engage on Sept. 14, meaning the two PPV cards would occur on Cinco de Mayo weekend and two days before Mexico Independence Day, respectively, significant timing given the former's heritage.