Espinoza Open to Discussing Bouts Between Showtime, ESPN Boxers

By Keith Idec

Stephen Espinoza is intrigued by the idea of having boxers tied to Showtime getting in the ring to face fighters affiliated with ESPN through Top Rank’s partnership with that network.

Of course, such synergy will be complicated and will require compromise from both sides. But Espinoza’s willingness to at least discuss matchups fans want to see – most notably Errol Spence Jr. (Showtime) against Terence Crawford (ESPN) – should be considered an encouraging sign for boxing fans.

Promoter Bob Arum, Top Rank’s founder and CEO, told last month that he expects to make mutually beneficial deals that’ll enable ESPN and Showtime to televise fights that otherwise wouldn’t be made ( Espinoza, the executive vice president and general manager for Showtime Sports, told that there aren’t any current plans to meet with Arum, but that he is open to doing so when the time is right.

stephen-espinoza (2)

“At a certain level, anything’s worth a conversation, particularly if there’s a way to get big fights done or interesting fights done,” Espinoza said. “At a certain point, though, if I look at Keith Thurman or Errol Spence or Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia, for that matter, they’ve got a lot of potential fights lined up. They’ve got a lot of unfinished business without thinking about having to go over to another network to fight.

“Look, if fights present themselves that make sense, we’ll have the discussion. But not only do we have guys with full dance cards, it’s not always as simple as trading fighters. It’s not like trading baseball cards or Pokemon cards. When you’ve put a lot of time and energy and financial investment into developing a group of fighters, or a particular fighter, only to see that fighter go somewhere else for a potentially career-defining fight, it’s tough to sort of identify something that is similarly valuable in return. It’s not just, ‘Here are two similarly known boxers. Let’s trade them.’ It’s not quite as simple as it may seem. But having said all of that, there are always challenges to making deals. If there’s a fight and there’s a demand for it, then we’ll do everything we can to make it happen, as long as it’s under reasonable business conditions and we’re getting value for what we’ve put into the development of the opportunity.”

The potential for dialogue is noteworthy because Arum and Espinoza have had a rocky relationship in the past. Before securing its deal with ESPN late last spring, Top Rank’s fighters appeared almost exclusively on HBO or HBO Pay-Per-View, Showtime’s rival.

Nevertheless, ESPN and Showtime would have to work together if Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs), who’s promoted by Top Rank, is to face either Spence (22-0, 19 KOs), the IBF welterweight champion, or WBA/WBC welterweight champ Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC). Spence and Thurman work with adviser Al Haymon, whose Premier Boxing Champions organization mostly puts its top-tier talent on Showtime.

“We’ll keep an eye on Terence Crawford,” Espinoza said. “To me, there’s an open question there. He’s a really talented fighter, but he’s in a new weight class. So before anyone’s rushing to ask him to fight Keith Thurman or Errol Spence, I think we’re all curious to see how he does in the new weight class. There are conversations to be had probably over time. There haven’t been conversations in the recent past, but we’re open to them.”

Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs), the mandatory challenger for the WBO welterweight championship, is expected to challenge Australia’s Jeff Horn (18-0-1, 11 KOs) for that title sometime in April.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

Tags: Showtime image   Bob Arum image   Top Rank image  
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by WBC WBA IBF on 01-07-2018

[QUOTE=Eff Pandas;18388119] All these mfers just need to start some profit sharing enterprise already ffs. There are only a handful of promoters who control the sport in the US. If they all worked together with each other in a way…

Comment by Eff Pandas on 01-07-2018

Don't tell me, show me. But hopefully this becomes a reality. All these mfers just need to start some profit sharing enterprise already ffs. There are only a handful of promoters who control the sport in the US. If they…

Comment by Tygshsu on 01-07-2018

[QUOTE=FLY TY;18384793]Showtime has a right to match any and all offers from HBO to Joshua, meaning he is not going anywhere until AFTER he fights Wilder and gets knocked out. For the life of me, I can't understand why any…

Comment by Tygshsu on 01-07-2018

[QUOTE=Pennsauken1;18384843]I agree that Wilder will knock out AJ, he got stretched by a 40 + fighter, Hearn and AJ are finding any way and excuse to avoid the Wider fight, that’s the reason why they are jumping to HBO, to…

Comment by Dr.Cool on 01-06-2018

[QUOTE=genrick;18384754]What cards? Espinoza can't even make these top PBC fighters each other. Spence wanted to fight in August, Sept, Oct last year in his hometown in Texas. No one stepped up, except Peterson, who is a 140 guy. Mikey is…

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