As we head into this weekend’s Showtime Boxing Card, TJ Rives and Dan Rafael for “The Big Fight Weekend” checked in with Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza. This in-depth conversation had plenty of meat to it as Espinoza discussed a myriad of topics with Rafael, including Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis vs. Ryan Garcia, Brandon Figueroa vs. Mark Magsayo, the winner of David Benavidez vs. Caleb Plant, and more.
On the topic of Davis vs. Garcia, you could hear in the voice of Espinoza that he is glad the negotiation part of it is over, as it seemed to be one of the more stressful things that he has had to deal with as of late. Espinoza told Rafael, “It was painful; choose your metaphor; water torcher, pulling fingernails off, etc. There were some late nights, lost hair, lost weight, but two things sort of I think motivated everybody, at least on our end. Number one, what this fight would mean to the sport and how important it was, highly desired and anticipated amongst boxing fans. And two, the commitment that the two fighters had to it.
Espinoza continued, “There were plenty of opportunities where there were people around one or the other fighter who may have been suggesting other alternatives that could have taken the exit ramp in some sense which is a little bit of what happened with Spence-Crawford. The negotiations was prolonged, and one guy decided to take a different opportunity. The reason why this happened ultimately is that Gervonta (Davis) and Ryan (Garcia) would not let that happen. So regardless of whatever opportunities or whoever got impatient, they both remained focused on it and wouldn’t let anybody focus on anything other than making this fight.”
One of the more interesting topics associated with this fight that fans (especially on Twitter) love to debate are the PPV numbers. There are arguments that this matchup isn’t considered a “super fight,” while others say it is. In the same breath, those same fans debate whether the PPV numbers will be robust or a bust due to the ever-growing issue of pirating. Espinoza’s comments are in line with some of the things I have written in the past on this very topic.
“It sort of feels like 800 is the new million. If we look at it, Canelo-Plant did about 800 (thousand), Wilder-Fury II & III did a little less than that but in the same neighborhood, and those have been the biggest ones in recent PPVs. That sort of feels like not necessarily the ceiling but the most we have done as a sport lately. I’d be thrilled with those numbers, and I know there are people throwing around other numbers as well. But what does make me optimistic and hopeful that we could have a breakout performance is when you talk about the handful of fighters in the sport who have the profile and fan base outside of our usual hardcore fans. Tank and Ryan are definitely within that small category.”
The other special guest on the show is Jarrett ‘Swift’ Hurd (24-2), who returns to the ring after a twenty-one-month layoff. Hurd has gone through some personal things in his life, including his father’s passing (Fred Hurd Sr.), and he has also been active in the real estate business. Hurd has a new trainer in Andrew Council and looks to get back to his winning ways and the dominant fighter he was in the junior middleweight division.
You can listen to the entire show below, which also features a preview of this weekend’s fights.