By Rick Reeno
Several industry sources have advised BoxingScene.com of the eye-opening details in relation to Miguel Cotto's upcoming fight being secured by HBO.
According to parties with knowledge of the details, the HBO brass approached promoter Lou DiBella with the idea of securing Miguel Cotto for a 2014 showdown with WBC middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
DiBella, who has a good relationship with Cotto's adviser Gaby Penagaricano, was informed that Cotto was likely going to fight on Showtime in October - but the Puerto Rican star hit a roadblock in terms of the money that Showtime was willing to offer up for his next fight.
If Cotto was going to return on Showtime, then DiBella would likely lose the possibility of matching him against Martinez - as Showtime would potentially grab future options on Cotto and Martinez was bound to HBO.
In order to push him in the direction of an HBO return, DiBella approached the network with the idea of a two-fight plan, starting with Cotto having an interim-fight in the fall against a durable opponent, and then bringing Cotto back to HBO to face Martinez in 2014.
DiBella had no luck. HBO had no interest in a Cotto interim-fight. There was no discussions of the financial terms because HBO advised DiBella they were not interested in showcasing any Cotto interim-fight, because the boxer was coming off back to back defeats. Their only interest was a Martinez-Cotto fight for 2014. In fact, HBO told DiBella they were perfectly fine with with Cotto's next fight being broadcast on Showtime.
"Yes, I did speak with HBO about Cotto. I heard Cotto was having some trouble with getting Showtime to reach a certain number for his next fight, so I spoke to HBO about Cotto. They had no interest in purchasing a Cotto interim-fight. They told me 'let Showtime have him,' DiBella confirmed to BoxingScene.com.
A few weeks later, DiBella was shocked when a press release was issued to announce that Cotto was returning to HBO on a date in October against Delvin Rodriguez, and Top Rank was co-promoting the event. Rodriguez was one of several names that DiBella presented to HBO for Cotto's return.
When the HBO date was announced, Penagaricano advised BoxingScene that Cotto did not agree to future options with HBO or Top Rank. In other words, Cotto can fight on HBO next month and jump right back to Showtime in 2014 for a lucrative fight with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
HBO's fee of $3.2 million dollars, for Cotto-Rodriguez, was a significant monetary bump from what Showtime was willing to pay for Cotto to face a similar opponent. Other promoters, including DiBella, would never have imagined that HBO would pay such a high fee for that particular match. DiBella's fee demand for the Cotto's return, against Rodriguez, would have been substantially lower.
The amount of money being paid out for Cotto-Rodriguez has certainly caused friction with other HBO talent. Super middleweight champion Andre Ward had recently voiced his displeasure at HBO's refusal to pay a similar fee for a fight which involves an opponent of a similar caliber to Delvin Rodriguez.
Since HBO broke off ties with Golden Boy Promotions earlier this year, Top Rank has become the promoter of choice for the network. But when HBO sent Golden Boy and powerful adviser Al Haymon packing, they vowed to work equally with other promoters.
When DiBella was part of the equation, HBO was quite clear in their rejection of a Cotto interim-fight. And, HBO officials told other promoters that their network had no interest in televising Cotto unless the Puerto Rican star agreed to give them options.
The theory by some is that HBO - like they did with DiBella - discussed the details of a Cotto return with Top Rank, which in turn promoted the Las Vegas-based promotional company to approach Cotto about staging his next fight.
What some industry members have complained about is the uneven playing field when promoters come to HBO with similar ideas - and sometimes the same fight scenarios.
"I just want to make it clear that I don't have a any problem with Top Rank, or Miguel Cotto or any member of his team. When HBO closed the door on Golden Boy and Al Haymon, you would have thought they would have opened the door for everyone else - and they really haven't. The unfair playing field continues," DiBella said.