- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz will fight under the banner of HBO PPV in their Sept. 17 showdown after Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer and network executives reached an agreement Wednesday.
"We have finalized our deal with HBO. We obviously had very intense negotiations," Schaefer told ESPN.com. "What we wanted to do is ensure that all the different Time Warner (HBO's parent company) assets will be in play one way or the other, including the Turner Broadcasting assets and the Time Inc. assets, which is their magazines."
It is a significant development for HBO, which was rocked earlier this year by the loss of pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao when Top Rank promoter Bob Arum took Pacquiao's May 7 fight against Shane Mosley to rival Showtime, which handled the pay-per-view production and distribution.
Did that help Schaefer make a favorable deal?
"I'm sure it didn't hurt," he said. "Do I think HBO was especially motivated to get the biggest and widest exposure? Sure. HBO is very motivated, and Time Warner is very motivated to show the boxing world and public what they can do. I was negotiating with very willing partners."
Arum's motivation to go to Showtime was the promise that its sister network, CBS, would be heavily involved in the marketing and promotion of the event. His goal was to give the fight -- which wound up doing about 1.3 million buys -- the widest possible exposure. Arum had been unsuccessful in getting HBO to get its sister networks, such as TNT, TBS and CNN, involved.
Time Warner also controls print and online publications such as Sports Illustrated, People and Entertainment Weekly.
Golden Boy followed Top Rank's lead in its negotiations with HBO, which was desperate to retain Mayweather, who has fought all of his major fights on HBO or HBO PPV, especially after losing Pacquiao.
"We wanted to make sure all other assets that HBO has available will be fully utilized to support this fight and give it the widest possible exposure," Schaefer said. "I am very happy that HBO Sports and HBO senior management were very open and that we had productive conversations, which fell on open ears. HBO seems very motivated and excited to show the world what they can do utilizing their vast array of assets."
One concrete example of how the fight will gain wider exposure than just on HBO: The reality series "24/7," which follows the buildup of major HBO PPV fights, will be replayed on one of the Turner networks, Schaefer said. The most likely would be TNT, TBS or truTV.
Schaefer said he did engage Showtime, which was interested in Mayweather-Ortiz.
"We had conversations with them," Schaefer said. "We explored alternatives with Showtime, but we did not go that far."
Schaefer also revealed the title of the fight: "Star Power."
"Mayweather is the biggest star, and Victor Ortiz is one of the most powerful guys in the sport. He knocks everybody down," Schaefer said. "You have a star fighting a guy with great power. You have a guy in Mayweather who attracts star power. You go to a Mayweather fight and it's a who's who showing up. It's 'Star Power.'"
Schaefer, who promotes Ortiz and has worked with Mayweather on his last four fights, all pay-per-view smashes, said Mayweather was personally involved in the deal.
"Floyd was very much involved as it relates to the marketing strategy. He came with very specific ideas and requests as it relates to what he wanted to see," Schaefer said.
The two-city national media tour for the fight kicks off Tuesday in New York followed by a stop in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The venue for the fight is not set yet, although Schaefer said that would be wrapped up "hopefully in 24 hours." Las Vegas' MGM Grand, where Mayweather has fought his last four bouts, is the likely host, Schaefer said.
Schaefer said he is still working to finalize the card, which could be a split-site pay-per-view. He hopes to have Mexican sensation Saul "Canelo" Alvarez make his second junior middleweight title defense from a different venue -- in Mexico or in the United States.
Alvarez's addition to the card would make a major impact. He is Mexico's most popular active fighter, and the card falls on the weekend of Mexican Independence Day, a traditional weekend for a fight involving a Mexican star.
Schaefer also said he hoped to add junior welterweight Erik Morales, the former three-division champion and Mexican legend, to the Mayweather-Ortiz portion of the card.
"If we can get Canelo and Morales both on the pay-per-view, I think the sky's the limit of what we can do in pay-per-view," Schaefer said. "That would make it an even bigger event for the fans."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
7hEric D. Williams