- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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If you didn't know any better, you would think this whole HBO-versus-Showtime boxing thing had devolved into the old Monday night wrestling wars between WWE and WCW.
The latest development came Tuesday when Showtime, in unveiling a slew of programming that will surround its marketing and promotion of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Robert Guerrero Showtime PPV fight on May 4 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, announced that it had tapped Ross Greenburg to serve as executive producer on two of its key pieces of programming associated with the fight.
To understand why that's a bombshell, one must understand the backstory. Greenburg is the former longtime president of HBO Sports, who was forced to resign in the summer of 2011. He had been having a rocky ride, but the last straw came when Top Rank's Bob Arum took HBO cornerstone fighter Manny Pacquiao to rival Showtime for his May 2011 pay-per-view fight with Shane Mosley. Greenburg's bosses had no idea that the relationship between Greenburg and Arum had deteriorated so badly, to the point that the network lost Pacquiao. It turned out to be for only one fight, but it, combined with other factors, ultimately cost Greenburg his job.
Hired to replace Greenburg was Ken Hershman, who resigned as the head of Showtime Sports to take the gig.
Last month, Mayweather, HBO's other cornerstone fighter, left the network to sign a massive exclusive deal with Showtime and parent company CBS, putting Hershman in an even worse spot that Greenburg had been in. After all, Greenburg lost Pacquiao for one fight. Hershman has lost Mayweather possibly for the rest of his career.
And earlier this week, HBO announced that it was no longer going to buy fights from Golden Boy Promotions, the company that it helped put in business and which has served as Mayweather's de facto promoter since 2007. Golden Boy also has been doing most of its business with Showtime since Hershman left and was replaced by Stephen Espinoza, who was previously Golden Boy's attorney.
Talk about a tangled web and musical chairs.
In any event, Greenburg, who has won more than 50 Sports Emmys and is a brilliant producer, has tons of experience working on Mayweather-themed projects after overseeing so many of his HBO events. Greenburg also oversaw the creation of HBO's "24/7" reality series, which became a tremendously popular vehicle that promoted Mayweather's fights. No matter how you slice it, Espinoza's bringing Greenburg on board for Mayweather-Guerrero is a superb move.