HBO Sports boss: ‘We need to get boxing back in the mainstream’


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The recent dead period in boxing -- has there been a fight since the Shane Mosley-Sergio Mora draw in September? -- will end Saturday night.

Showtime has a card in Las Vegas pitting featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez versus Rafael Marquez, and HBO will show California lightweights Robert Guerrero versus Vicente Escobedo.

It’s a prelude to the Nov. 13 Manny Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito pay-per-view bout in Cowboys Stadium, and a run of title defenses by the likes of Sergio Martinez (Nov. 20), Juan Manuel Marquez (Nov. 27) and Amir Khan (Dec. 11).

‘We’ve been patiently waiting for this flurry of activity,’ HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg said. ‘We missed the fights, but we’ve realized the way to make solid fights is by not accepting mediocrity. Don’t bring us a bad fight, we’re telling the promoters, because we’re not buying it.’

Greenburg says he was as frustrated as any hard-core boxing fan by the inability (twice) to make a Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. super-fight this year.

‘We need to get on a roll here for the sake of the sport. We need to get boxing back in the mainstream,’ Greenburg said. ‘We were on the cusp of something special if we could make the fight with Manny and Floyd, but these two failed attempts have hurt us. We needed to regroup.’


Mayweather’s withdrawal from the second round of talks has been followed by criminal charges’ being filed against him in Nevada in connection with a domestic dispute, and Pacquiao’s promoter, Top Rank, is being sued by Golden Boy Promotions, which has represented Mayweather in his fights since 2007.

‘They’re warring in the halls of justice rather than in the ring, but we’ve been here before in boxing,’ Greenburg said. ‘When a big fight materializes and there’s common interest, those legal hassles will then vanish. I’m hoping we see that.’

Perhaps that will happen in the Top Rank-Golden Boy squabble over money earned by Pacquiao, but Mayweather’s criminal case shows no signs of weakening. He has a court date in January, and a possible trial date could be set later in 2011.

‘Mayweather needs to get his life in order and clean up his legal hassles, then we can try this all over again,’ said Greenburg, who attempted to mediate a fight deal after Mayweather’s May 1 triumph over Mosley. ‘I know Manny wants the fight, and I think by next year, Mayweather will too.’

-- Lance Pugmire