It's Showtime for pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley for their May 7 welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Showtime, its sister network CBS and promoter Top Rank made official Wednesday what ESPN.com first reported Jan. 21 -- that they have joined forces to promote, produce and distribute the fight on pay-per-view, signaling a massive change in the boxing business landscape.
With the move, Pacquiao, boxing's biggest star, and Mosley, one of the sport's most well-known fighters and a former three-division champion, are leaving HBO, where they have fought for years.
The deal includes episodes of the critically acclaimed Showtime documentary series "Fight Camp 360°," which will preview the fight with behind-the-scenes access. CBS will participate by broadcasting a primetime special of the show in April.
"Fight Camp 360°," Showtime's version of HBO's hit "24/7," was created to give Showtime viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the ups and downs of the network's ongoing Super Six World Boxing Classic super middleweight tournament.
"The arrangement with CBS and Showtime regarding the promotion and distribution of the Pacquiao vs. Mosley championship event represents a new opportunity for the sport of boxing," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said in making the announcement. "It enables boxing to reach millions more people in the United States given the reach of CBS, the most-watched television network in the country. This development will not only benefit Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley but all of the young men participating in the sport of boxing."
The move also breaks HBO's stranglehold on the pay-per-view boxing market.
Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs), boxing's only eight-division champion, has generated nearly 4 million pay-per-view buys for his fights the past two years. Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in an HBO PPV fight that generated 1.4 million buys, the biggest-selling pay-per-view of 2010.
Showtime was once a major player in the pay-per-view boxing business, producing and distributing numerous big-money cards headlined by Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez. For 10 years, it held the record for the best-selling pay-per-view -- 1.99 million for the Evander Holyfield-Tyson ear bite rematch in 1997.
However, Showtime had drastically cut back in recent years, doing only the occasional pay-per-view. Pacquiao-Mosley will be the first fight produced and distributed by Showtime PPV since the Jose Luis Castillo-Diego Corrales rematch in 2005.
"Pay per view has been an opportunistic play for Showtime Sports in recent years," said Ken Hershman, the executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports. "In Pacquiao, we have a global celebrity and unquestionably the most popular boxer of this era attempting to continue his dominance in the ring against Shane Mosley, one of the most talented and recognizable fighters of today not named Manny Pacquiao.
"With this marquee matchup, Pacquiao's proven track record in pay per view and CBS' participation, this is the perfect opportunity for Showtime to be back in the pay-per-view business and in a big way," Hershman said.
CBS' involvement also is expected to include heavy promotion of the fight during its primetime programming and during the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Showtime and Top Rank recently came to terms for the network to handle the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga pay-per-view card on March 12, which will serve as something of a run-through as Showtime shakes off the rust of not having been involved in a pay-per-view for several years.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.