Ross Greenburg - HBO Sports President on Pacquiao, Mayweather, Clottey, Mosley, Pavlik, Bute, Arreola, Adamek and so Much More! By David Tyler, DoghouseBoxing (March 1, 2010)
Let's once again welcome boxing historian Ross Greenburg into the doghouse. Ross is also the president of HBO sports.
David Tyler - Mr. Greenburg, thank you for joining us again at doghouse boxing.
Ross Greenburg - David my pleasure, and you can call me Ross.
DT - Sir, let's start where we left off in our last interview. You stated that if Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Pacman won their fights last year that HBO would make every effort to put them in the ring together in 2010. What happened and was HBO involved in the failed negotiations?
RG - Yeah we were heavily involved. I was trying to see if I could help by putting the two parties together and come up with some kind of agreement that both could live with and make the event happen. At the end of the day, they enlisted a judge as the arbitrator and he couldn't make it happen at the eleventh hour. It's a major disappoint obviously and we are back to two major conference championship games and see if we can create a super bowl. Hopefully, if those two fighters do make their way through tricky fights, we can try and put the big one together again. Boxing needs this fight and certainly the public wants it to happen.
DT - Yes, there is a certain air of disappointment for boxing to let such a mega event slip away. These are the two most popular fighters in the world and the world eagerly anticipated the event.
RG - I believe that some credit should go to 24/7 for launching these two boxers into the mainstream as personalities and fighters. Now, yes they are every bit as well known as the Peyton Mannings and the LeBron James of the world. Boxing definitely has two superstars in the prime of their career at the same weight. The stars are aligned but for some reason we can't get the rocket ship up.
DT - All the credit should go to 24/7 which made these two boxers seem larger than life. The award winning "mini-series" has brought the human element into play for fans of either fighter.
RG - They have both broken through on a number of elements. The young demo and women are attracted to their personalities, there is no question that if they did fight they would lift the entire sport on their back and we need that lift right now.
DT - But.....
RG - But we got Joshua Clottey and Shane Mosley. These are two very significant, tough, fighters and Pacquiao and Mayweather will not have an easy time come March 13th and May 1st.
DT - Let's look at the HBO boxing lineup for the 2010 before we talk about the PPV events.
RG - I think our lineup coming post Olympics and the disappoint of no Mayweather / Pacquiao fight, is a very strong one. The Mosley / Berto event didn't happen but Berto is coming back January 30th to fight Quintana who did beat Paul Williams the first time they met. We have on the same card Glen Johnson / Tavoris Cloud which should be a tough important fight for Cloud to establish himself. Much the same way I think that Devon Alexander has to establish himself at 140 lbs. I think Kelly Pavlik / Sergio Martinez and Lucian Bute/ Sergio Miranda is a helluva double header come April 17th. We are coming out with some very significant fights surrounding the two PPV events.
DT - The last time we spoke you said that all PPV events would be on the scale of a Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup, NBA championship, etc. Pacman / Joshua Clottey does not seem like a Super Bowl. Why the change?
RG - You're right, I think that the economic model for PPV is such that there is no license fee that HBO could offer a Manny Pacquiao payday other than PPV. Pacquiao will make north of 15 million dollars so there is no way we could come up with a license fee that would trigger those kinds of dollars.
DT - Sir, where do you see the excitement in that fight? Why should the boxing fans shell out $60 to see this one?
RG - I was ringside when Clottey fought Cotto and a lot of people who were ringside thought Clottey was taking over the first half of that fight and had Cotto in serious trouble. Clottey didn't look bad at the end of the fight and some people thought Cotto got a little bit of a gift decision. So he is a strong, tough, pure 147 pounder that can hit. I'm not sure that the Cotto that we saw against Pacquiao was at the prime of his career at that point. Clottey is tough, strong, and big. It will be a better fight in the ring than people are expecting prior to the fight. The other obvious factor is that Manny Pacquiao is electric in the ring. There is something about his style, will, and force of nature in the ring that's mesmerizing. That's really what's captivated the public. He just has a real crowd pleasing style.
DT - Pac has over 100 million devoted, worshipping, fiercely loyal, true blue fans. Do you think that if he fought Pee Wee Herman it would draw 1.5 million PPV hits?
RG - I don't know David, that's a tall order. We did a million one seventy in his last fight against Cotto. I think that people were pointing to a Mayweather / Pacquiao show so strongly that we would be very happy if we got in the million buy range. I think we do have an intrigue in that's it's happening at Cowboy Stadium. You've got another promoter in Jerry Jones who is getting actively involved. The Manny Pacquiao phenomena has with it a lot of national media exposure. Time magazine and 60 minutes is starting to follow him. We also have our "Road to Dallas" documentary that will be airing this week and next Saturday. I believe that we have all the marketing tools in place and Manny's image is so powerful that he could carry the day. In the end, a million PPV buys would be a homerun.
DT - And Mayweather / Mosley?
RG - That's another helluva fight. You have two legends now. Mosley looked great against Margarito and doesn't show his age at 38. His has really quick hands, a lot more speed than I think Mayweather is used to in the ring. He has a veteran's confidence, he has been in some huge fights and knows what it is like to step into that ring for a big event and I think that Floyd will have his hands full. It is a very interesting match-up and Floyd has to be at the top of his game.
DT - Floyd Mayweather has no peer in the sport today and that's not just my opinion. It's Mosley I question. He has been inactive for over a year and he has 38 year old legs.
RG - Yeah I know. Through no fault of his own. The Berto fight was supposed to happen the first of the year and he really wanted a Pacquiao or Mayweather fight. So it didn't work out for him but now at the age of 38 he is getting Mayweather after a long layoff. Of course Mayweather came off a two year layoff and look how well he did against Marquez.
DT - The Pavlik / Martinez fight combined with the Bute / Miranda bout will certainly be a big night for HBO. Your thoughts?
RG - I think the Pavlik / Martinez fight will be a great one. Having been ringside for the Williams / Martinez fight I can tell you that Martinez has a lot of will and I think Kelly is in for a tough fight. Kelly got back in the picture with a recent win but now he is facing a guy at his level. He knows that he has to fight significant fights to be recognized again as the guy who looked spectacular by defeating Jermaine Taylor twice.
DT - I wonder why Lucian Bute was left out of the Super Middleweight tournament?
RG - Well he is a 168 pound fighter. He will be fighting a tough opponent in Edison Miranda. Bute is an interesting fighter and he reminds me a little of Timothy Bradley who has never been given his just due but as he continues to fight on HBO I think he will evolve in a real strong Super Middleweight Champion.
DT - I agree. It would be nice to see Lucian Bute fight my favorite slugger, King Arthur Abraham who should easily win the Super Middleweight tournament. Any chance we will see King Arthur on HBO?
RG - He is a great fighter and we did look to put him on HBO prior to the tournament. We will see how the tournament evolves but yes he is definitely a fighter that we are interested in at HBO.
DT - April 24th you will have the very popular Chris Arreola fighting Tomasz Adamek.
RG - I think that Arreola's performance last December was a good comeback fight. Adamek has a tremendous following in New Jersey as he ventures out to California and see what he is made of and really get tested against a heavyweight who can really bang. Adamek is tough and I believe that this is one of the best heavyweight fights that can be made in that division.
DT - We all know the saying, "As the Heayweights go so goes boxing" and we are thin with heavyweight contenders.
RG - I understand, hopefully some kid is hitting the speed bag in Iowa or somewhere who 6'4" weighing 240 pounds and will take over the division and excite the public much like Ali or Tyson. I have a great deal of respect for the Klitschko's, they are solid heavyweights but at times they don't have the kind of charisma that you need and they are fighting almost exclusively in Germany. Vitali did venture over here and fight Arreola and performed very well in that fight. You just can't have one great heavyweight championship fight every two years and expect to capture the fans in this country.
DT - Back to the Mayweather / Mosley event. They had an altercation with Max Kellerman involved while interviewing Mayweather after his victory over Marquez. Do they really dislike each other?
RG - Yes. They just flat out don't like each other and they never have and Mosley has always wanted Mayweather in the ring and Mayweather has always wanted Mosley. You mentioned the Marquez fight and I was there sitting behind Mosley. All the talk prior to that fight was about Pacquiao and he wasn't even there for the bout. Mayweather was snickering at Mosley and Mosley went into the ring because he was pushed by Bernard Hopkins. He went up there as a last gasp effort to create a fight with Mayweather. I don't think that what happened with Max necessarily created this fight because clearly two months of negotiations went on to have the super fight with Pacquiao but as things turned out, Mosley got his wish.
DT - Ross, we all look forward to HBO boxing in 2010. Hopefully we will get the super mega event---Pacquiao / Mayweather---in the fall of this year. It's been an honor discussing upcoming boxing on HBO with you and please save me a seat in the HBO section for the Mayweather / Mosley fight in May.
RG - My pleasure and I will save you a seat. Please let all your readers know that we at HBO very much appreciate their support. We do realize that the fans have many choices in today's media market and we will continue all of our efforts to bring them the best of boxing on HBO and HBO PPV.
DT - Ross, one other thing. It crossed my mind that a 24/7 for Mayweather / Mosley would be great.......
RG - David, I've got to go. I have a radio interview and they are calling. Please take care and see you at the Mayweather/ Mosley fight, May 1st.
Many thanks to Kris Goddard and Ray Stallone of HBO for making this interview happen!
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