With news today of Canelo Alvarez’s return to HBO after a stint with Showtime that included 3 PPV appearances, one has to wonder about the decision making that has been paramount to the decline in competitive boxing. Stephen Espinoza is the tactical executive head in charge at Showtime Sports that includes approving what matches will be aired and subsequently made for Showtime TV.
In a statement released today through numerous boxing news outlets, Espinoza was critical of a potential fight this winter that would see Canelo fight Joshua Clottey. “He said that that was the only fight that they would accept, and we accepted it.” said Espinoza referring to Oscar de la Hoya who heads Canelo’s promotional company Golden Boy Promotions.
It’s surprising that Espinoza would be critical (although not surprisingly he later accepted the fight) of anything lately as the level of competition aired on Showtime has been embarrassing to boxing fans. From light welterweight champion Danny Garcia fighting an unranked opponent and seemingly ducking hoards of competition to the Santa Cruz matchup on the Mayweather undercard, we have seen a major drop in standards this year compared to 2013.
With Espinoza fumbling Showtime’s assent in boxing entertainment, HBO has at least capitalized with signing Canelo. However, HBO accepted the dreadful Clottey matchup and are also in the process of promoting Pacquaio-Algeiri which is a considerably boring matchup if you consider the weight and experience mismatch.
Fantastic fights continued to go unmade and we’re left to squabble over the potential one or two good fights a year that sometimes do. At this point HBO is looking bright with GGG fighting often, a Canelo-Cotto showdown in the works and a Hopkins-Kovalev super middleweight championship unification fight set for November.
Showtime needs to fire Espinoza and put someone on in his place who can bring serious entertainment back to their network and this sport. Without competently challenging HBO for viewership ratings we’re left with a monopoly and bad fights. One could argue that some of the mismatches have been entertaining but you have to build hype and match highly rated contenders and champions time and again to truly establish credible boxing entertainment that fans and most importantly- potential fans can grab ahold of. Everybody loved the movie Rocky, but Apollo should’ve been fighting someone else.