By Robert Morales
Top Ranks' CEO Bob Arum is stoked about the beginning of the press tour for the May 7 welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao and "Sugar" Shane Mosley at MGM Grand.
Big fights always get Arum jacked. But he was particularly pumped because the fight is going to be shown on CBS/Showtime pay-per-view.
The fight will be televised by Showtime, but its parent company - CBS - will play a significant role in promoting the fight.
This was quite a coup for Showtime, which has always played second fiddle to HBO, which typically does the bigger fights.
"CBS, it gives us a terrestrial platform to publicize and promote the fight," said Arum, who will be in Beverly Hills next week on the first stop of a four-city tour that will then go to Las Vegas, New York City and Washington D.C. "Heretofore, whether it was on HBO or Showtime, you were limited to a relatively small slice of the audience. Twenty-eight million for HBO, 23 million for Showtime, I believe."
CBS reaches about 150 million homes, Arum said.
"Everyone in the country will be aware of this fight and we believe they will be interested enough so that a sizable portion of those people will buy the fight," Arum said. "We think we have the tools now to really enhance the pay-per-view audience."
Arum said Fight Camp 360 - which is Showtime's answer to HBO's 24/7 - will air for half an hour on Showtime three weeks and two weeks, respectively, ahead of the fight. The third episode will be shown on CBS during prime time on a Saturday night and will be a full hour. The finale will air the week of the fight for half an hour on Showtime, and will be repeated that same night on CBS.
Arum also noted that CBS will do promotional work on this fight in conjunction with the NCAA basketball tournament. CBS also has well in excess of 100 radio stations in its stable, Arum pointed out.
That's why Showtime, not HBO, is running this show.
"If it was merely a lateral move from HBO to Showtime, we wouldn't have considered it because HBO has done a very good job or us on pay-per-view," Arum said. "But this adds such a dimension, it was a no-brainer."
Not only is Arum convinced this deal will bear fruit, he believes it could lead to something else.
"I wouldn't be surprised that as a result of this we'll see boxing back on network TV, which is my ultimate goal," Arum said. "Not only on CBS, but the other three networks."
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram and BoxingScene.com