Boxing fans — and maybe even casual sports fans — have been waiting years for Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao to face off in the ring. Now the fight that’s likely to obliterate all revenue records is happening, and archrival premium cablers HBO and Showtime are teaming up on the May 2 PPV telecast. That’s because Mayweather has an exclusive six-fight deal with Showtime and Pacquiao has a contract with HBO. This will mark only the second time the premium nets have worked together on a PPV bout. The other was in 2002 when then-heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis, who had an exclusive deal with HBO, knocked out ex-champ Mike Tyson, who was with Showtime.
While Mayweather and Pacquiao circled each other in recent weeks, HBO and Showtime have been in talks about how to make it work on PPV. Reports say the fight could cost a record $89.95 to buy, and another 10 bucks for HD. Mayweather, who will put his undefeated record on the line in a welterweight championship unification match at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, is said to be getting a 60-40 split on the purse. No word on what that means for the HBO-Showtime deal, but the latter scored the all-time PPV revenue record of $150 million for its 2013 junior middleweight title fight between Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez. Mayweather also was involved in the bout that earned the most pay-per-views buys: 2.4 million for his 2007 win over an aging Oscar De La Hoya.
“Everyone involved, including Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, knows this fight simply had to happen,” Stephen Espinoza, EVP & General Manager of Showtime Sports, said in a statement. “Now, for the second time under his current deal with Showtime Networks, Floyd Mayweather has agreed to fight an opponent that many people thought he’d never face.” Said HBO Sports President Ken Hershman: “Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have been the two most prominent fighters in the sport of boxing for the past decade, and fight fans around the world have been clamoring for them to face each other. May 2nd will be a signature moment for the sport of boxing, and HBO Sports is thrilled to be a part of this spectacular event.”
Televised boxing has been on a roll lately. CBS this week signed a deal this week for a series of Saturday afternoon fights, which will mark the first live bouts on the network since Bill Clinton was president. Weeks earlier, NBC inked a deal for live primetime fights, the first on the Peacock since 1985.