By Jake Donovan
It’s been a busy enough stretch for Las Vegas-based promotional company Top Rank Inc. to have to worry about idle gossip. Yet such a matter was placed in their inbox, when rumors of a 140 lb. showdown between Timothy Bradley and Vernon Paris spread through the Twitter world.
“My next fight is going to be against Timothy Desert Storm Bradley on HBO,” Paris insisted to online followers on his Twitter page (@vernonparisvip). “I’m 28-0; Tim (is) 26-0. It’s going down, [W]est [C]oast verus [E]ast [C]oast, March 24 (on) HBO.”
There are several problems with the claims being made by the undefeated prospect. Chief among them, Top Rank hasn’t yet discussed any fight with Bradley, much less secure a date or venue with HBO given that there is nobody there to make such plans.
“We haven’t even moved past January ’12 yet,” stated Kery Davis, Senior Vice President for HBO Sports.
Top Rank has also vehemently denied any rumors of working out plans for a Bradley-Paris fight.
“We don’t have a date, a venue, or anyone to talk to,” said Bruce Trampler, the Hall-of-Fame matchmaker for Top Rank, referring to the changes at the top level of HBO and Showtime. “It’s a great fight if it’s there to be made, but we haven’t discussed anything with Tim.”
Bradley recently made his Top Rank debut, scoring a seventh round stoppage over former two-division champion Joel Casamayor in their pay-per-view chief support bout last Saturday in Las Vegas. The bout was Bradely’s first in ten months, due to legal issues over his splitting from co-promoters Gary Shaw Productions and Thompson Boxing Promotions.
Getting Bradley back in the ring in the next four months would be an ideal scenario, but it’s difficult to do while the two biggest networks for boxing are unable to book fights.
It’s been widely reported that boxing schedules for both HBO and Showtime are currently on hold, given the shakeup at the top level for both networks. Ken Hershman is leaving his gig as executive Vice President and General Manager of Showtime Sports to take control of the reins at HBO in the wake of Ross Greenburg stepping down earlier this year.
Showtime has recently announced that Stephen Espinoza will be replacing Hershman in heading up its sports programming. Hershman is already removed from the decision making at Showtime, although his role at HBO doesn’t officially begin until January 9.
As a result, neither network has been adding any fights to its boxing schedule. The lone exception has been plans for HBO to stage the rematch between Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz, but that was something worked out by Davis and the current staff in place as the last bit of business to be tended to before Hershman assumes control in a few weeks.
The staff at Top Rank is well aware of what’s going on with both networks, which is why all of its focus has been on its remaining schedule. Any fights that have been discussed – such as a possible vacant 122 lb. title fight between Nonito Donaire and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr – are tentatively slotted to air on pay-per-view, at least until they have clearance to talk to a network about airing such a matchup.
As to why Paris would start such a rumor?
“He’s a good fighter, but apparently he’s also one hell of a tweeter,” Trampler theorizes.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]