By Mike Coppinger
SANTA MONICA, California -- Kathy Duva's Main Events has had an exclusive output deal with NBC Sports since 2011. That agreement is about to expire, and according to the longtime promoter, Al Haymon is taking the reins.
Duva simply couldn't compete with the kind of money Haymon was slinging around in talks with the television giant. Just how much are we talking here? According to Duva, Haymon is offering NBC in the neighborhood of $20 million for around 24 fight dates.
Most of those shows will be televised on NBC Sports Network. However, four of those dates "might" be slated for primetime on regular NBC, with one of them coming the week after the Super Bowl, which will televised on NBC.
"He's promised NBC that' he's going to take his fighters off premium cable ... He's going to put Showtime and HBO out of the puzzle," Duva told BoxingScene.com ringside at the Barker Hangar on Tuesday for Curtis Steven's fight against Hassan N'Dam. "And he's going to do away with pay per view and create an over-the-top network. He's got the fighters and he's presumably got the money. I wish him the best and I totally and sincerely mean it. ... I pray he doesn't blow it, because if he does, we're not going back to (network TV for a while.) If he's successful, all the networks will want boxing."
Duva admits that the shows she's put on NBC recently don't measure to some of the offerings she's had in the past, and it's with good reason.
"Absolutely. Did you think I was going to go into my pocket to lose money on fights when I knew my contract was about to expire?" Duva asked. "The last time I made a fight thinking the deal was still in place was when I made the fight between Steve Cunningham and Amir Mansour and Curtis and Tureano Johnson. Those were great fights and I didn't make a profit.
"Sometimes that's what you do because you want to make a great show, to impress the network. ... After that, we had to change our business plan. I had to say 'Alright, I've got from now until the end of the year to get at least one more fighter on HBO. To get at least one more guy to that point where I can take him there and if I don't have a series in the future, I can stay in business.
"We've got Karl Dargan to the point where we can get him on HBO. We took the opportunity, absolutely, to showcase some fighters. And you know what I learned? Those showcase fights ... I don't think I would do them again. I have a few more dates, and I have the budget, and I'm going to get entertaining fights, and I'm going to build some more prospects."
Even though Main Events' time partnership with NBC is nearing its end, Duva is fond of the work she did in bringing boxing back to broadcast television.
"I'm very proud. We started with NBC and it was a struggle to get four dates. And we kept expanding it and expanding it. And into the second year we had convinced them that boxing is a popular part of their programming, something I'm proud of. Now I just hope Al doesn't blow it up."
Follow Mike Coppinger on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger