By Rick Reeno
Promoter Lou DiBella is staying way back on the sidelines and watching the cold war play out. He won't get involved in the bickering and refuses to take sides.
Top Rank have aligned themselves with HBO, and Golden Boy Promotions have aligned themselves with network rival Showtime. DiBella is willing to work with all of them. He doesn't have the luxury of a giant-sized stable like Golden Boy or Top Rank - and because of that the veteran promoter is ready to work with anyone who has the best possible opportunities for his fighters.
One has to wonder if DiBella took Bob Arum's advice the other night and smoked a good joint - because during our interview DiBella unexpectedly started singing "Give Peace a Chance" by John Lennon.
"If they have the right opportunity for my fighter, I want [Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard] Schaefer and [Showtime Sports head Stephen] Espinoza to know that I'm happy to do business with them too. Right now I'm doing business with HBO because that's who is calling me for fights and I'm going to give them the best product and the best spectacles," Dibella told BoxingScene.com.
"I'm not going to sit there and sh*t on Schaefer. I don't give a f*** about him fighting with HBO. I'm not in the business of sh*ting on Showtime. I'm not going to do that. You will not read any quotes from me sh*ting on Showtime. You will not read any quotes from me sh*ting on Schaefer. I just want people to understand that I am f***ing Switzerland. I just want the best opportunities for my fighters and one thing that I have always been able to do throughout my career is do business with anybody and that's what I plan to do in this f***ing environment."
"All this stuff with pissing contests and wars - I'm out. Life is too f***ing short. I just want to do business. So Richard, I have guys who line up well with your guys. If you want to make a f***ing deal, call me. HBO, you're actually calling me now to make fight cards. You're calling me now to make fights for you. So guess what? I'm going to make the best f***ing cards I can for HBO. That being said, a lot of my guys factor in with Showtime's fighters, and Golden Boy's fighters and Al [Haymon's] fighters - and I don't have a problem doing business there. If Steven ever wanted to call me, I'll all ears. If they are really willing to buy something from me, I'm happy to sell it."
"As far as I'm concerned, there is big budget over at HBO and there is a big budget over at Showtime. I may like certain people better than others and I may have preferences in certain places - but my job is to promote and to get my fighters the best opportunities possible - and that's what I plan to do."
Before DiBella launched his promotional company, he was the head of programming for HBO Sports. He was working for HBO in the 1990s when promoter Don King took the sport's biggest star, Mike Tyson, over to rival network Showtime. Besides Tyson, King took most of his stable over to Showtime.
Last month, HBO cut their business ties with Golden Boy - because the promotional firm was selling the majority of their content to Showtime. Tensions are starting to overflow, as many read with BoxingScene's interview with Schaefer on Tuesday night.
While the circumstances are similar, DiBella is not sure as to how he would have handled the situation if he was still working for HBO.
"All I can say is, people can go back to my time over at HBO with [former HBO Sports head] Seth Abraham. I was there when Don King took Mike Tyson over to Showtime and he took all of his other stars over to Showtime. And the situation was somewhat similar. And the answer is - if they are doing what they think is in their best interest, then they are doing what's in their best interest," DiBella said.
"Would I do it? At one point I did do it. We did not buy any of his secondary programming because he brought all of his primary stuff over to the other network. The only answer I can give you is, I was in that position with other executives that I worked for, and back then we handled it in a pretty frightening similar way."
The situation between HBO/Golden Boy and what took place between HBO and King has some key differences. Golden Boy, unlike King, was still trying to sell some of their primary programming to HBO. The network sent a loud message when they passed on the opportunity to purchase a planned welterweight fight between Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner, who consistently provided the network with high ratings. Malignaggi-Broner will take place on Showtime on June 22.