The CBS Corporation army turned out in full force for a press conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel to promote Showtime PPV’s May 7 Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight, and so did enough media members to surprise just about everyone connected to the event.Among those on the dais joining the fighters and their entourages were Showtime chief Matt Blank and sports chief Ken Hershman. And there were plenty of big CBS names in the audience, including Leslie Moonves, Showtime entertainment president David Nevins, and CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl, sporting a post-Green Bay Packers championship perma-smile. That turnout alone shows CBS is serious about this event.
And from those execs to the several members of the CBS communications team, including SVP Chris Ender, almost everyone was in amazement at the sheer number of media members who showed up for a press conference held three months before a fight that won’t even be in the same state.
Of course if you have ever been to a boxing media event, you know that everyone there is hardly a working journalist, as can be evidenced by the amount of people with credentials chasing autographs and photos with fighters.
Once things got underway, if you were hoping for on-stage fireworks between Manny and Sugar Shane, you were out of luck. The two seem to have a lot of respect for each other. Plus, the champ wasn’t exactly in serious mode, as he spent much of the press conference actually video recording it on his cell phone.
So the closest you would get to conflict was promoter Bob Arum predictably taking a swipe at heated rival (and fighter-turned promoter) Oscar De La Hoya and the head of MGM Sports taking a shot at the NFL when he promised that all the seats in the arena on fight night would work.
All in all it was a great day for Showtime, as clearly there will be big buzz for this fight. This Showtime crew hasn’t dealt with a fight of this magnitude, and they know they have a big job ahead to promote the heck out of it for the next three months.
Manny alone is not a hard sell, but they’ll have some true boxing fans to convince, as many (like me) are saddened that this fight is happening at all, because it represents everything that is wrong with the sport of boxing. And it’s not just because Mosley’s tank looks to be on empty (I tried to bet some CBS folks that Manny would win by the third round and found no takers).
Pacquiao should be fighting Floyd Mayweather in a superfight that would be one of the biggest sporting events of any kind all year. Instead, because the sport of boxing is such a mess, that fight hasn’t happened, and who knows if it ever will.
But even seeing the Pacman, a wildly-entertaining fighter with a great personality (can’t wait to see him on Letterman when that happens) dispose of a former great will be a huge draw. At least judging by a packed house in Los Angeles for a Showtime sports department that is definitely packing more of a punch these days.