In a rare and unusual agreement that is beneficial for American boxing fans, promoters have come to terms with Showtime and HBO on a unique deal to allow both networks to broadcast the April 29 IBF heavyweight title fight between champion Anthony Joshua and former unified champion Wladimir Klitschko.
Showtime gets the live broadcast, which begins at 4:15 p.m. ET. HBO will then get the primetime rebroadcast, which starts at 10:45 p.m. ET. Each network will provide its own crew to announce the show.
Showtime has an exclusive deal with Joshua to be his U.S. television partner. HBO has a similar agreement with Klitschko in the States.
The networks have frequently been at odds before and one of the criticisms of boxing in the last 25 or 30 years has been their intransigence in terms of working together for the best of the sport.
Joshua-Klitschko, which will be held at sold-out Wembley Stadium in London, figures to be a highly significant fight. Though the framework of a deal has been in place for weeks, the sides couldn’t conclude until Monday, perilously close to the deadline.
It’s one of the rare instances where Showtime and HBO have worked together. They collaborated on the 2000 pay-per-view bout between heavyweights Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis, as well as on the 2015 welterweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
“Both promoters and both networks have found a solution that enables boxing fans in the U.S. to watch the world heavyweight championship,” said Peter Nelson, the executive vice president of HBO Sports. This agreement ensures that our subscribers have access to same-day primetime coverage of the fight.”
Stephen Espinoza, the executive vice president and general manager of Showtime Sports, echoed Nelson’s words.
“We are thrilled to be delivering Joshua vs. Klitschko to the U.S. audience live on Showtime,” Espinoza said. “On the afternoon of April 29, U.S. sports fans will be able to tune in to Showtime to join a record-breaking crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium and a worldwide television audience in witnessing an event that represents not only the contesting of the heavyweight world championship, but potentially the changing of the guard in the most influential division in boxing. ”
For boxing in the U.S. to rebound, it is vital that the biggest fights be shown on American television. Joshua-Klitschko is a fascinating bout between two former Olympic gold medalists as well as a battle between the old guard and the new. Joshua is 18-0 with 18 KOs, but has never met anyone nearly as gifted or as powerful as the veteran Klitschko.
Klitschko is 64-4 with 53 knockouts, but hasn’t fought since losing the IBF, WBA and WBO belts in 2015 to Tyson Fury.
Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, may well be the best promoter in the business now, and he’s shown an ability to bring sides together and make a deal.
“I’m delighted to announce this historic deal that will see Britain’s biggest ever fight shown on both HBO and Showtime in the U.S.,” Hearn said. “It takes a special fight to break down barriers and boundaries but also networks and executives who believe in working with the best interest of fight fans in mind. With the obstacles in place it would have been any easy resolution to not air the fight in the States but I want to thank HBO and Showtime for their perseverance and allowing America to see one hell of a fight at our national stadium in front on 90,000 passionate fans. Joshua vs. Klitschko is a fight for the ages and we look forward to the show!”