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Boxing fans will finally get a showdown between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
The two men have signed on for a May 2 fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas after years of failed negotiations. Almost just as interesting, the event marks a rare revenue share for HBO and Showtime. The two pay cable networks are collaborating on the event, a rare pay-per-view split last seen in the 2002 match between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson. (Pacquiao and promoter Bob Arum have a PPV deal with HBO, while Mayweather is a top attraction at Showtime.)
The fee is going to be higher than the average pay-per-view fight, likely $89.95 higher for high-def.
Full details on marketing, replay rights and commentary staffing were not immediately available, but execs at both networks hopped on the phone with reporters late Friday to talk about how it finally all came together.
“We each have our businesses to run, and we’re going to continue to compete the way we do, but if something of this magnitude presents itself, and we can collaborate in this way, we will,” said HBO Sports president Ken Hershman. “It doesn’t always work out, but this time it did.”
Speaking to the long road to securing the fight, Showtime Sports EVP and GM Stephen Espinoza did not mince words about the difficulty: “Every side of this negotiation bore some of the pain, and that’s how it got done.”
The rewards will likely be incredible. The highest-grossing pay-per-view boxing match to date is Showtime’s 2013 showdown between Mayweather and Saul Alvarez. That took in $150 million viewers with total fight revenues closer to $200 million including sponsorships, international TV rights and a blockbuster $20 million gate. It’s for all of these reasons that a Mayweather-Pacquiao matchup has been a top priority for CBS-owned Showtime and CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves, who was intimately involved in the negotiations.
Despite the relatively short time table to promote Mayweather and Pacquiao, it seems a given that this one will set a new high.
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