Rainbow Media Holdings Inc. is throwing its hat into the pay-per-view boxing
ring, teaming up with flamboyant boxing promoter Don King to distribute and
promote his Aug. 4 event from China, sources close to the situation said.
The event -- which features the rubber match between heavyweight champion
John Ruiz and Evander Holyfield -- is the first PPV-boxing event distributed
through Rainbow Sports, a subsidiary of Rainbow.
But the event will not include International Boxing Federation and World
Boxing Council heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman. Late last week, a U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Rahman -- who
was scheduled to appear on the China card after knocking out Lennox Lewis to win
those titles April 12 -- will have to honor a rematch clause and fight the
former champion in his next bout.
Rainbow executives would not comment on the matter, but sources said King and
Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman Charles Dolan had reached an agreement to
distribute the event.
Cablevision has controlled the national distribution and promotion rights to
other PPV events in the past, most notably the 1991 25th Anniversary Gala at
the Met and the 1992 'Olympics Triplecast' -- both in conjunction with
However, most PPV-boxing matches are distributed by either Home Box Office's
TVKO or Showtime Event Television. Sources said both companies passed on the
card due to the cost of delivering a live event from China.
Rainbow and King are still working out the details of the event, including
the suggested retail price and marketing plan, sources said.
In Demand L.L.C. senior vice president of programming and development Dan
York would neither confirm nor deny Rainbow's participation in negotiations to
distribute the event via the PPV network, but he did say that the company
'continues to discuss terms to license the bout.'
The card lost a potential draw in Rahman, who would have fought David
U.S. District Court Judge Miriam Cedarbaum banned Rahman from fighting anyone
but Lewis for 18 months. Lewis' promoters filed a breach-of-contract suit last
month, claiming that the deal Rahman signed for the first fight required him to
grant Lewis an immediate rematch.
HBO senior vice president of sports operations Mark Taffet said he hopes to
negotiate a Lewis-Rahman PPV event for September or October.
'We will immediately start discussions with Lennox Lewis in helping him to
realize his dream of regaining the heavyweight title,' Taffet said. 'It will be
our desire to offer a Lewis-Rahman fight in September or October, but we have to
look at the full implications of the ruling.'