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Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza looks for sports programming that punches through

Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza looks for sports programming that punches through

Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager for sports at Showtime Networks, can often be seen alongside the glitterati who show up at major boxing spectacles.

But he’s never forgotten the first fight that moved him to tears. Watching on a black and white TV screen almost 39 years ago at the El Paso home of his Mexican emigre grandfather, he saw heavyweight legend Muhammad Ali lose a shocking decision to upstart Leon Spinks.

“I think I had my head down and my cousin turned to me and said ‘Are you crying?’” Espinoza, 46, recalled during a recent conversation in his Manhattan office. “I didn’t have an appreciation that...

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