IN the end, the personal meeting between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. during a Miami Heat game proved to be the clincher.
Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports, said the chance courtside meeting between the two boxing superstars made it all possible for the planned May 2 mega-bout to finally happen at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“The meeting between and Manny at the Miami Heat game certainly greased the wheels in getting through the final stages of the process,” said Espinoza in a joint media conference call with HBO Sports president Ken Hershman shortly after the highly-anticipated match was officially announced early Saturday morning (Manila time).
Pacquiao and Mayweather were both at courtside during the Heat game against the Milwaukee Bucks last January 28, after which the unbeaten American approached the Filipino ring icon at halftime, talked briefly, and then exchanged phone numbers.
A few hours later, the 37-year-old Mayweather visited Pacquiao at his hotel suite and had another round of talk.
Everything fell into place shortly after.
“I am glad my decision to meet with Manny and discuss making this fight happen helped get the deal done,” Mayweather confirmed in an interview with Sports Illustrated.
“I believe that the direct line of communication between Floyd and Manny cleared up a lot of doubts on both of their minds and renewed their commitment to getting this fight done,” added the Showtime executive.
[See Dream fight finally on]
Espinoza said Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., the mother company of Showtime, was the prime mover for the fight that was five years in the making to be finally realized.
“One of the main reasons why this deal got done, as opposed to deals in the past, was because Leslie Moonves [President and CEO, CBS Corporation] was a part of the process. He was deeply committed to making this deal and was someone that all parties in this negotiation really respect,” he said.
“He was really the catalyst for seeing this through and refused to take no for an answer from any side.”
Hershman said HBO is certainly proud to be a part of the fight people around the world had long wanted to see.
“This is the biggest boxing event of all time, we’re confident of that. We couldn’t be prouder to be a part of it and help craft it," he added. “We look forward to May 2. It’s going to be a spectacular night for this sport and for HBO and Showtime as well.”