Viewer's Choice will step into the pay-per-view
boxing-distribution ring when it offers the Jan. 23 George Foreman-Larry Holmes bout.
While the date has been set, the fight's promoters,
Boxing International, still have not secured a site for the event. Also, Viewer's
Choice has yet to set a rate card, or even a suggested retail price, for the fight.
Nevertheless, the match does mark a rare departure from
TVKO and Showtime Event Television distributing bouts. TVKO's absence, in particular,
is surprising, since Time Warner Sports has a fight and announcing deal with Foreman. TVKO
has also distributed most of Foreman's previous PPV events, although it did not carry
his last appearance, in 1996, against unheralded Crawford Grimsley.
Time Warner Sports executives would only say that Foreman
was given a waiver to fight outside of the company.
"In consideration of the long, mutually beneficial
relationship that Time Warner's had with George Foreman, we did grant a waiver for
him to pursue the Holmes fight with other parties," said Mark Taffet, senior vice
president of programming operations for Time Warner Sports.
Representatives from Boxing International could not be
reached for comment at press time.
But Michael Klein, senior vice president of programming for
Viewer's Choice, said the network didn't outbid SET or TVKO. Rather, the fight
was brought to it by Boxing International.
"This is not a point of us circumventing TVKO or
SET," Klein said. "We've done other fights where other promoters have come
to us directly."
The fight, which will take place nearly two weeks after
Foreman's 50th birthday, will feature two of the oldest fighters ever to face each
other: Holmes will be 49 at the time of the event.
The fight will be the first for Foreman since he lost a
controversial decision to Shannon Briggs in November. Holmes' last fight was a
victory last July against Maurice Harris, and his last PPV appearance was against former
heavyweight champion Oliver McCall in April 1995.
While both fighters are at the ends of their careers, Klein
believes that both are still popular with fans, and that the fight should perform well.
"George Foreman has tremendous appeal, and Holmes is
well-known as a former champion," Klein said. "It has already received a lot of
promotional backing, and it will generate even more publicity as we get closer to the