Miguel Cotto brought back to HBO
First Top Rank's Bob Arum brought pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao back to HBO last month and now he's also bringing back another of his stars, Miguel Cotto, giving the network a clean sweep of the major pay-per-view cards this fall.
Arum said a deal had been agreed to between his company and HBO PPV to produce and distribute Cotto's junior middleweight title defense against Antonio Margarito, a Dec. 3 rematch at New York's Madison Square Garden.
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Although Arum left tidying up the details to Todd duBoef, his stepson and the president of Top Rank, he said, "It's all agreed to."
DuBoef told ESPN.com that he still had a few minor points to go over with HBO PPV chief Mark Taffet, but said completion of the agreement was "imminent."
"New York, Cotto versus Margarito, HBO. All the ingredients for a memorable night," duBoef said.
Top Rank also was weighing an offer from Showtime, HBO's archrival, for the fight. Although Cotto has fought virtually all of his major fights on HBO or HBO PPV, Showtime PPV handled Cotto's March defense against Ricardo Mayorga.
Upset with HBO for a variety of reasons, Arum moved Cotto to Showtime and then shocked the boxing world when he moved Pacquiao -- also a longtime HBO PPV stalwart -- to Showtime PPV for his May 7 fight against Shane Mosley. Arum made that move because of the promise of heavy involvement in promoting and marketing the fight from CBS, Showtime's sister network.
Pacquiao's defection to Showtime, and to a lesser extent Cotto's, was a major factor in Ross Greenburg's forced resignation as president of HBO Sports in July. A few weeks after Greenburg resigned, Arum closed a deal to bring Pacquiao back to the network -- with the promise that parent company Time Warner would use its considerable media assets, including CNN, TNT and TBS, to give the fight wide exposure -- for his third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez (Nov. 12, MGM Grand in Las Vegas).
When Arum was negotiating the rights for Pacquiao-Marquez III, he originally said the Pacquiao and Cotto fights would be a package deal for the winning network. Then he changed his mind and said he was in ongoing talks with Showtime to retain Cotto.
While Arum termed the offers from the networks for Pacquiao-Marquez as both being outstanding, he said HBO's offer for Cotto-Margarito II was simply much better than Showtime's.
"What made us make the decision (to go back to HBO) was because they're really giving us tremendous assets and the deal is very, very good," Arum said. "They're gearing up and they think we can do 750,000 homes for that fight."
Arum said HBO would produce a "24/7" series in support of the fight, although it may be fewer than the standard four episodes, and use all of its platforms to market the fight, albeit to a "slightly lesser degree" than it is planning for Pacquiao-Marquez.
"Showtime knows we are going with HBO and they took it OK," Arum said. "They're pros."
Asked if the move would damage his newfound relationship with Showtime, Arum said, "It's not helping it, but it's not hurting it. They're sensible. If we have a product good for their network they'll buy it, and we are certainly not going to shut the door to them."
Arum pointed out that Top Rank is working with Showtime on plans for a November fight for lightweight titlist Brandon Rios and that it also has interest in rematches between featherweight titlist Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez and junior featherweight titlist Jorge Arce and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. Showtime was involved in both original fights.
The fall HBO PPV schedule now includes next week's Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz fight, Bernard Hopkins' light heavyweight title defense against Chad Dawson on Oct. 15, Pacquiao-Marquez III and now Cotto-Margarito II.
Cotto (36-2, 29 KOs) and Margarito (38-7, 27 KOs) first met in 2008 and waged a bloody welterweight title bout in Las Vegas, a fight that was on HBO PPV. Cotto opened a big early lead, but Margarito rallied to take over in the second half of the fight and stop him in the 11th round. Margarito's win was later tainted when he was caught trying to enter the ring for his next fight wearing loaded hand wraps. There are many who believe he got away with wearing illegal wraps against Cotto.
Cotto stopped Mayorga in the 12th round in March, but Margarito has not fought since November, when he was hammered in a lopsided decision loss to Pacquiao for a vacant junior middleweight belt. Margarito suffered a broken orbital bone and wound up with a cataract that required eye surgery and threatened his career.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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