HBO's Peter Nelson talks state of boxing, plans for 2018 and Andre the Giant documentary

Combat columnist
Boxing

The head of HBO Sports is, almost by default, always one of boxing’s most powerful figures given the commitment, both financially and in terms of airtime, that HBO provides to the sport. That makes Peter Nelson, the executive vice president of HBO Sports, among the handful of the most powerful players in boxing.

I spoke to him about a variety of issues in boxing, but I opened the interview by asking him about the network’s upcoming documentary on the late legendary pro wrestler, Andre the Giant.

Also in the interview:

At 3:35, Nelson discusses former world champion Devon Alexander’s admission to Yahoo Sports that he has fought an opioid addiction. Nelson said he is proud of Alexander for going public.

At 6:12, Nelson talks about having trained in the past with fighters and how trainers Kevin Cunningham and Freddie Roach influenced his thinking on boxing.

At 7:16, Nelson explains what he looks for when he buys a fight. It’s not, he said, just a big name and it’s not just a great fight. It’s a combination of factors that go into it.

At 9:54, Nelson discusses the health of boxing in general and talks about the need for a mega-star like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao or Mike Tyson.

At 12:36, I point out to Nelson that 10 of the 40 fights on the network since the start of 2016 were on pay-per-view. He discusses that and lays out the future in terms of PPV fights. “Where there are opportunities to do more fights live and fewer on pay-per-view, absolutely, that’s a no-brainer,” he said. ” … Wherever we can, our preference is to have fights live on HBO.”

At 14:23, I asked whether either Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin will ever appear on HBO again. Nelson gives an interesting answer.

At 17:27, Nelson says it is “conceivable” that ex-champion Daniel Jacobs could wind up fighting either Alvarez or Golovkin on HBO and not on PPV.

At 19:06, Nelson addresses promoter Kathy Duva’s comments that in the prior 30 years, all of the big stars in boxing were made on HBO. I asked if he felt she could make that same statement in 10 years.

At 21:50, I point out to Nelson that no show on HBO in 2017 averaged 1 million viewers and he gives his reaction.

At 23:48, I read Nelson a quote from Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza in which Espinoza said, “Our commitment [to boxing] is stronger than any network in the sport.” Nelson provides his response.

At 25:25, Nelson addresses UFC president Dana White’s interest in boxing and says he’s open to working with White in boxing.

At 30:00, Nelson says sometimes promoters “go rogue” when they say they have a date on the network without a match having been made.

At 31:53, Nelson runs through the upcoming boxing programming on HBO.

Peter Nelson is the executive vice president of HBO Sports. (Getty Images)
Peter Nelson is the executive vice president of HBO Sports. (Getty Images)

 

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