Something positive potentially could happen for cost-conscious boxing fans in this constantly changing, COVID-19 world.
Promoter Bob Arum has informed BoxingScene.com that it’s still possible that the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez fight could air live on ESPN. Arum previously believed that their expensive lightweight title unification bout was bound for ESPN Pay-Per-View on October 3, but the 88-year-old promoter is awaiting word from ESPN executives regarding how they’ll televise one of the most highly anticipated fights on the remainder of the 2020 boxing calendar.
It is also possible that Lomachenko-Lopez could be offered on ESPN+, the network’s $5-per-month streaming service. If Lomachenko-Lopez headlines a pay-per-view show, it likely would cost at least $75 to watch in HD.
Arum added that negotiations are ongoing with representatives for Lomachenko and Lopez to finalize their contracts. He is optimistic that they’ll come to an agreement soon and officially announce their 12-round, 135-pound championship match.
“We’re going October 3rd,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “We’re negotiating the purses with Teofimo and with Lomachenko. We’re making progress, and hopefully we’ll get it agreed to soon. ESPN is gonna do it. I don’t know whether they’ll do it on linear or pay-per-view, but that’s up to them.”
Arum explained why it remains feasible for ESPN to televise Lomachenko-Lopez on a popular cable channel that is available in roughly 86 million American homes.
“It’s an expensive fight,” Arum said, “but if college football goes away [due to COVID-19], instead of showing a big football game, say a Michigan-Ohio State game, for example, if we do Lomachenko-Lopez and put two title fights with it, that’s a big, tentpole event that could be a good substitute for a big college football game on ESPN.”
Arum’s company, Top Rank Inc., is scheduled to produce live boxing for ESPN every Saturday night in September. ESPN also will televise Top Rank cards the last two Saturday nights in August (August 22 and August 29).
The company could provide more live content for ESPN if the college football season and/or Major League Baseball’s schedule is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If Lomachenko-Lopez doesn’t air live on ESPN, it could be one of at least four boxing pay-per-view events in the final three-plus months of this year.
Showtime has already announced two pay-per-view cards for September 26 and October 24.
Jermall Charlo-Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Jermell Charlo-Jeison Rosario will co-headline Showtime’s September 26 event from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Gervonta Davis-Leo Santa Cruz is the main event of its pay-per-view show October 24 at a site to be determined.
FOX is expected to announce at least one pay-per-view show for this fall, reportedly Errol Spence Jr.-Danny Garcia, later this week.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and Brooklyn’s Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) were supposed to meet May 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Contracts for their 12-round fight for the 32-year-old Lomachenko’s WBA and WBO lightweight titles and the 22-year-old Lopez’s IBF belt weren’t finalized, however, when the coronavirus crisis temporarily shut down the boxing business in the middle of March.
Arum later offered Lomachenko and Lopez tune-up fights in June and July, respectively. Both boxers turned down those opportunities because they want to fight each other next.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.