By Michael Marley
Ross Greenburg, the now former President of HBO Sports, has stated to Richard Sandomir of the New York Times that he was not fired.
Greenburg states that he rejected a contract renewal with HBO, mainly because boxing "was taking up too much of my time" and said he tired of having "to appease boxing promotes annd managers" constantly.
Greenburg also said Manny Pacquiao's defection to Showtime was not a factor in his departure.
Despite Greenburg's statements, insiders continue to claim that HBO presented him with "the option of resignation" as the network was planning replace him. Those same insiders have showered clouds of doubt on Greenburg's spin regarding his former position which reportedly earned him $3 million dollars per year.
He did not dispute BoxingScene.com's true scoop that he will not remain President of HBO Sports. Greenburg is supposed to make a statement along these lines or put out a press release on Monday.
Since Kery Davis reported to Greenburg, I penned the following...
Kery Davis, VP of sports programming at HBO, knows the deal.
And, given the BoxingScene.com scoop (this time, unlike Thomas Hauser’s “news tip” of early May, no one is denying it) that longtime HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg has been given the axe by the prime cable TV network effective Monday, Dartmouth grad Davis has to be as nervous as the proverbial cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
Off with Greenburg’s head and Davis, given the ways of corporate shakeups, figures to be made “redundant” as the British phrase for getting sacked goes, shortly.
The Boxing Scene story, which sent HBO flacks scurrying for the nearest phone free sand dune in the Hamptons, was a collaboration between Rick Reeno and Lem “Baltimore Gem” Satterfield.
I’m only surprised about the timing as I had “Greenburg fired by Labor Day” in the betting pool.
While some insiders are underplaying HBO’s loss of Pinoy Idol Manny Pacquiao, even if just for one bout to archrival Showtime, the Pacquiao Factor cannot be ignored.
As I write this, cagey Pacman promoter Bob Arum was still perusing offer sheets from HBO and Showtime to handle the Juan Manuel Marquez-Pacquiao III bout set for Nov. 12 in Las Vegas.
Am I the only soul who thinks Arum and Top Rank have been laying in the cut waiting for Arum’s sworn enemy Greenburg to be given the gate?
Boxing insiders are playing the usual guessing game as to who will fill Greenburg’s shoes.
The real question is whether HBO will bring in a genuine insider, someone who really knows how to make better fights with what appears to be huge budget far superior to Showtime’s boxing expenditures, or whether they will just hire a “TV guy,” meaning a sports production executive, and let the once brilliant boxing program continue to stagger along.
Whoever takes over Greenburg’s plus office will be under great pressure to deliver the Big One, the Floyd Mayweather-Pacquiao “dream fight” that has gone offtrack numerous times for various reasons.
One close observer of the HBO boxing soap opera said Friday, “Losing Pacquiao at a time when the sport’s only other megastar, Floyd Mayweather Jr., was in retirement, may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“But the albatross, the White Elephant, that typified the aimless, downward direction of the formerly so prestigious HBO boxing platform was the Devon Alexander-Tim Bradley junior welterweight title they put in that mauseoleum in Pontiac, Mich.,” the man said.
“They handed these little known and not so charismatic fighters million dollar, multifight deals and why? HBO was just bidding against itself as Don King and Big Gary Shaw laughed at them. If anything personified the descent of HBO’s fight platform, it was that event, a debacle in and out of the ring.”
Meanwhile, Davis’ former underling, Luis Barragan, is said to have his boots on the ground for the US Army in Afghanistan. Barragan, also a lawyer, suddenly quit his cushy gig at HBO to enlist.
What with all the flak around the HBO HQs on Sixth Avenue, Davis probably deserves some combat pay as well.
It would be a shocker if Davis, a loyal lieutenant under Boss Ross, survives the decapitation of El Presidente.
Another angle to be explored with the Greenburg exit is whether, as Arum, King and other rival promoters have long screamed about, anything will be done about the “most favored nation” treatment that the network has extended to Golden Boy Promotions and to ubiquitous adviser Al Haymon.
One fight journalist, Steve Kim of Maxboxing, secondarily refers to HBO as “the Haymon Boxing Organization.”
For their part, Oscar De La Hoya’s company and Haymon say the complainers are just second-raters whose whining is nothing but sour grapes.
HBO’s obvious, best course would be to favor no promoter but to let them all freely compete to deliver the best matches for reasonable amounts of money.
Unless someone forceful is put in charge of bout quality control, the situation will be stay as unsatisfactory as it is right now.