Rainbow Media Group Inc. is throwing its hat into the pay-per-view boxing ring, teaming with flamboyant boxing promoter Don King to distribute and promote his August 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 Media Group Inc.
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 on 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 NBC.
However, most PPV boxing matches are distributed either by Home Box Office's TVKO or Showtime Event Television. Sources said both companies passed on the event, 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 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 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 Izon.
U.S. District Court Judge Miriam Cedarbaum banned Rahman from fighting anyone but Lewis for 18 months. Lewis' promoters last month filed a breach-of-contract suit, claiming the deal Rahman signed for the first fight required him to grant Lewis an immediate rematch.
Home Box Office 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 realize his dream of regaining the heavyweight title," Taffet said. "It will be our desire to offer a Lewis-Rahman fight in September of October, but we have to look at the full implications of the ruling."