ATLANTIC CITY -- Hours before Showtime was set to televise Bernard Hopkins light heavyweight title defense against Karo Murat, Showtime Sports Executive Vice President and General Manager Stephen Espinoza announced significant changes to its end of the year schedule.
On December 7, Showtime will televise a quadruple header from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn headlined by a welterweight fight between Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah. Headlining the undercard will be Devon Alexander’s welterweight title defense against Shawn Porter. Also on the card will be Austin Trout, fighting for the first time since dropping a decision to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez last April. He'll face Erislandy Lara for a vacant title and super middleweight titleholder Sakio Bika will defend his belt against Anthony Dirrell.
On December 14, Showtime will televise Adrien Broner’s welterweight title defense against Marcos Maidana from the Alamodome in San Antonio. Broner-Maidana was originally scheduled for pay-per-view, but executives from Golden Boy and the network decided to move it to Showtime. The card will include Keith Thurman defending an interim title against Jesus Soto-Karass, bantamweight titleholder Leo Santa Cruz against Cesar Seda, light heavyweight champion Beibut Shumenov against Tamas Kovacs and former welterweight champion Victor Ortiz against Alfonso Gomez.
Either Shumenov-Kovacs or Ortiz-Gomez will be broadcast on Showtime Extreme, Espinoza said.
There was speculation that after the success of the Floyd Mayweather-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez pay-per-view -- which Espinoza says is still right around 2.2 million buys -- that Showtime would consider moving Broner-Maidana to the main network. However, Espinoza insists that one has nothing to do with the other.
It was unrelated,” Espinoza said, while pointing out that Showtime’s ratings were up 60 percent this year. “None of us were thrilled with putting that fight on pay-per-view. We thought Broner, while he is a star, could benefit from the widest possible exposure. We will see Broner on pay-per-view in the future but we combined enough quarters in the couches to put this on the Showtime network.”
Espinoza also defused speculation that the increased spending by Showtime this year had left the network struggling for cash in the fourth quarter.
“I’m certainly aware of the rumors that Showtime was out of money, or that we put all our best talent on the [Mayweather] pay-per-view and we didn’t have anyone to fight the rest of the year. We have a patient scheduling approach. Our talent pool is very deep. There is more than enough.”
-- By Chris Mannix