Klitschko deal dependent on Floyd
February, 19, 2013
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty ImagesWladimir Klitschko's next opponent was dependent on Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s future network home.One thing is clear -- heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko will not be fighting on April 6, as was originally planned.
With time growing short to promote the event for that date and an opponent still not set, Klitschko is looking to move to May 4. There are two possible opponents at the top of the list for his 14th title defense: 6-foot-5, 243-pound Francesco Pianeta (28-0-1, 15 KOs), a 28-year-old southpaw from Italy who lives in Germany, and 6-2, 225-pound Bryant Jennings (16-0, 8 KOs) of Philadelphia.
The opponent Klitschko (59-3, 50 KOs) picks, however, likely comes down to the American television deal on the table. From what my sources tell me, if HBO ponies up, Klitschko will fight Jennings (a more recognizable name to American fans than Pianeta). Whether HBO would buy the fight on May 4, however, was dependent on which network Floyd Mayweather Jr. picked for his next fight.
Mayweather picked Showtime PPV on Tuesday for his May 4 fight against Robert Guerrero. It sounds odd that a Klitschko fight would depend on Mayweather, but always remember that in the boxing business things are usually not done in a vacuum. A lot of what happens is interconnected.
Had Mayweather picked HBO PPV, I am told HBO would have bought Klitschko-Jennings and aired it live from Europe in the afternoon, using the telecast to help promote Mayweather's pay-per-view that evening.
However, with Mayweather going to Showtime PPV for May, I am told HBO will back off and not put on a boxing event that day, which means Klitschko likely will wind up on Epix (which pays less money than HBO), which means it's probably more likely he'll face Pianeta.
The interesting thing about a possible Klitschko-Jennings fight is that Jennings will soon be ordered to fight Kubrat Pulev in a title eliminator to determine Klitschko's mandatory challenger because Tomasz Adamek declined to fight Pulev for the No. 1 position. By skipping the eliminator and going into a title fight, Jennings and promoter Russell Peltz have far less leverage to make a deal -- if one is even offered now with HBO seemingly out. If he gets the fight with Klitschko as an optional opponent, Jennings would be looking at a payday of a few hundred thousand dollars, he'd have to sign a rematch clause and basically give up his first born to K2 Promotions.
However, if Jennings gambled on himself and took the eliminator against Pulev and became the mandatory challenger, he would have the leverage of a possible purse bid (meaning at least 25 percent of the money) and of not having to give up options.
If Jennings was the mandatory, K2, which never wants to gamble with losing control of a Klitschko promotion, would likely do what it always does in these mandatory situations -- overpay Jennings -- meaning a seven-figure purse to avoid a purse bid and get him to give up a rematch clause.
Apparently, Jennings prefers to take a far more onerous deal than gambling he can beat Pulev and still being guaranteed the title shot down the road. Of course, it's not all going to be his decision. It seemingly will come down to the fact that Mayweather decided on Showtime, which might have cost Jennings the title shot for the time being.