When HBO and Showtime struck a deal to work together on last week’s Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao superfight, it wasn’t easy. Both networks have their way of doing things and they had to sort through myriad details to produce the telecast.
In the end, they got through it and gave viewers a quality product even though the fight itself was forgettable.
I have watched a large chunk of the pay-per-view since returning home from Las Vegas from the fight and it was a job well done.
I particularly enjoyed seeing HBO blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley work with Showtime analyst Al Bernstein. They are two of the best in the business -- both Hall of Famers -- and both utter professionals. They had chemistry from the get-go and worked superbly together, especially considering it was the first time they had done so. It was also clear that they like each other, and it’s hard not to like either guy. Roy Jones Jr. (HBO) was on his game as an expert analyst as well.
Having Harold Lederman (HBO) and Steve Farhood (Showtime) both score the fight was also worthwhile as it gave two points of view. They were on the same page with the scoring also, leading viewers to believe there would not be any crazy decision and, sure enough, they were in sync with the official judges.
Interviewers Max Kellerman (HBO, Pacquiao camp) and Jim Gray (Showtime, Mayweather camp) also did a good job in their roles. Kellerman was particularly strong in his postfight interview with Pacquiao, although he did not get him to reveal his shoulder injury. That didn’t come out until Pacquiao's promoter, Top Rank’s Bob Arum, brought it up to media members just before the postfight news conference began an hour or so after the bout.
Telecast host James Brown of CBS (Showtime’s parent company) gave the pay-per-view the big-fight feel that was needed, even if he was a bit over the top in some of his descriptions. Brown was flanked by Lennox Lewis (HBO) and Paulie Malignaggi (Showtime), who gave the fighter’s point of view on this big event.
Unfortunately, Lewis and Malignaggi were not added to the team until late in the game as HBO and Showtime executives battled tooth and nail about the host position, with HBO not wanting Malignaggi, who had been heavily critical of Pacquiao, on the team, and Showtime not wanting an HBO representative at the host position. In the end it worked out and the viewers were well served.
Having Jimmy Lennon (Showtime) and Michael Buffer (HBO) jointly handle the ring introductions and decision was a bit silly (as it was for the 2002 Lewis-Mike Tyson fight) but it worked. Hey, this whole thing was a circus -- why not have two ringmasters?
Lennon altered his “It’s Showtime!” catch phrase, instead offering up “It’s go time!” Buffer, of course, let loose with his “Let’s get ready to rumble!”
There were plenty of shots of the massive number of ringside celebs, which there was plenty of time for, considering how horrible the undercard was. Fans deserved better for the $100 price of the pay-per-view.
Both networks -- who had to sync their clocks exactly to air the live countdown show simultaneously on Saturday night before the PPV began -- will also simultaneously air replays of the fight on Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET.
Part of the network agreement prohibits either network from altering in any way the live call of the bout. The network agreement also requires both networks to start the replay no earlier than 9 p.m. ET on Saturday, and the networks’ first run of the replay has to be on the premium cable outlet, meaning Showtime can’t initially air the replay on, for example, CBS or CBS Sports Network, and HBO can’t initially air the replay on one of its sister networks, such as TNT or truTV.