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HBO Execs: Boxing Still A Big Component For Network

Boxing still packs a major punch for HBO even with the recent loss of the network’s sports president Ross Greenburg, according to HBO co-president Richard Plepler.

Plepler told me during HBO’s TCA presentation Thursday that the network will soon begin the search for a replacement for Greenburg, who resigned last week due to the rigors of negotiating fights for the network’s boxing program, which represents 70% of HBO’s overall sports budget.

The network will most likely look outside the company for an executive that has both a boxing and sports production background.

In the meantime Plepler said he will be involved in the network’s boxing negotiations in the near future. That includes the network’s pitch for to boxing promotion company Top Rank for the Nov. 12 Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight and most likely the Dec. 3 Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito bouts.

Plepler said he was optimistic about HBO’s chances of bringing Pacquiao back to HBO. The pay service had carried 11 straight Pacquiao PPV fights before Showtime garnered the rights to the May 1 Pacquiao-Shane Mosley PPV fight.

As for Greenburg, Plepler told TV critics that Greenburg’s departure had nothing to do with his inability to secure PPV rights to Pacquiao-Mosley.

“I think Ross had an extraordinary run at HBO and we look back at his legacy … with nothing but pride,” he said. “The fact that there’s complexity in closing a boxing deal frankly had nothing to do with his decision to go on and do what he loves to do and does so superbly well, which is to produce.”