Cable operators that are antsy for a heavyweight
pay-per-view boxing event may have to wait until December, as Showtime landed heavyweight
champion Evander Holyfield's Sept. 19 fight for premium television.
Holyfield will fight No. 1 heavyweight contender Vaughn
Bean in Atlanta as part of Showtime's free-preview-weekend promotion, said Mark
Greenberg, executive vice president of marketing and communications for Showtime. The
fight marks the first time that Holyfield has fought outside of PPV since 1996, when he
battled Bobby Czyz.
Greenberg said a potentially short PPV-promotional window,
as well as the relative obscurity of Bean, kept the event from appearing on PPV.
"There just wasn't enough time to stage a PPV
event, so we thought that it would be a better opportunity to showcase boxing on Showtime
and to parlay this into bigger and better fights for PPV," Greenberg said.
"It's a great opportunity for operators to sell premium."
Nevertheless, the announcement disappointed PPV executives,
who were hoping that Holyfield would fight at least once on PPV in 1998, after setting
buy-rate and revenue records in his last two PPV appearances against Mike Tyson. Holyfield
was scheduled to fight Henry Akinwande June 6, but the fight was canceled at the last
minute after Akinwande contracted hepatitis B.
Operators were hoping that the Holyfield-Akinwande fight
would be rescheduled, but Akinwande has yet to be declared medically fit. With Tyson
banned from boxing -- although he could have his license reinstated by this week -- and
with Holyfield fighting in September, it's unlikely that the industry will get a
major heavyweight PPV-boxing event in 1998.
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