By Bill "Two Scoops" Emes
Stephen Espinoza, head of Showtime Sports, is not taking Bernard Hopkins' decision personally. Espinoza's network was trying to finalize a light heavyweight unification between Hopkins and Adonis Stevenson for a date in October or November - but then Hopkins unexpectedly walked across the street to rival network HBO and finalized a unification against Sergey Kovalev for November.
Hopkins detailed his reasons for picking Kovalev in a recent BoxingScene article - http://www.boxingscene.com/hopkins-explains-checkmate-on-stevenson-kovalev-deal--80628
"It did surprise me simply because he took less money to fight Kovalev. At this stage of his career, Bernard has been very clear that he wants to maximize revenues. That's the way it surprised me. But from a boxing perspective it's part of the business. he wanted to take on Kovalev and I don't fault him for that. If he wants the Kovalev fight, then at this stage of his career he has a handful of fights left, if that, and if he wants to prioritize that fight I'm not going to hold it against him," Espinoza told BoxingScene.com.
The move by Hopkins is viewed in the industry as the first step to Golden Boy Promotions rebuilding their business relationship with HBO. In early 2013, HBO cut their business ties with Golden Boy. When that happened, Golden Boy placed all of their major fights on Showtime. Hopkins not only fights under the Golden Boy banner but he is also a partner in the company. Espinoza has no intention of issuing any network bans or blacklisting anyone, and he's more than happy to showcase Hopkins in the future.
"Its business, not personal. Bernard has had great fights on Showtime, he's had great fights on HBO. He's had a relationship with both [networks]. I'm not going to make some silly decision, like HBO, and announce that people are blacklisted or banned. I'm not going to do something childish like that....that's unproductive, makes no sense. If the opportunity [is there] to have Bernard back on our airwaves, we're happy to do it," Espinoza said.