New York -- Boxing promoter Don King's recent
reconciliation with Time Warner Sports may not be sitting well with Showtime Networks
Inc., which holds an exclusive promotional deal with the flamboyant promoter.
Some boxing observers believe that the relationship between
Showtime and King has been strained by King's recent dealings with Showtime's
rival, Time Warner.
After several years of feuding, King and Time Warner teamed
up in November to develop the March 13 Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis
heavyweight-unification fight. Holyfield, who is represented by King, had fought his last
four bouts either on Showtime or on the network's pay-per-view arm, Showtime Event
Last week, King and Time Warner teamed up again to put
together the Feb. 20 welterweight-championship fight between King-promoted champion Felix
Trinidad and former champ Pernell Whitaker.
"I don't see how it can benefit Showtime if King
is going to take his top attractions across the street," said Steve Farhood,
contributing editor for Fight Game.
King could not be reached for comment by press time.
But Jay Larkin, senior vice president of Showtime sports
and event programming, said the network is going forward with its boxing franchise under
King's exclusive promotion, despite the promoter's recent liaisons with Time
"We have a relationship with Don, and we anticipate
continuing with that relationship," Larkin said.
In fact, Showtime announced last week that it will offer at
least one fight card per month, beginning in February and running through May, as part of
its multiyear, exclusive promotional deal with the flamboyant promoter.
All four fight cards feature major world-title defenses,
including such popular fighters as middleweight champions Bernard Hopkins and William
Joppy (Feb. 6); junior welterweight champion Sharmba Mitchell (March 27); bantamweight
champion Johnny Tapia and strawweight champion Ricardo Lopez (April 17); and bantamweight
champion Tim Austin (May 22).
Larkin added that King's recent dealings with Time
Warner, despite his contract with Showtime, prove that the network will not stop the
development of major fights.
"This shows that we'll cooperate with the
industry to make sure that the big fights happen, but we're hopeful that when the
right fights happens for us, network politics won't prevent those events from
happening," he said.
Boxing analyst Tony Paige said that if King continues to
work closely with Time Warner, it could eventually force Showtime to work with other
"It may work out well for Showtime, because it may
open up their options to move to other promoters," Paige said.