By taking the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley pay-per-view fight to Showtime, the HBO cable network's only rival in broadcast boxing, Bob Arum gambled millions. He accepts that there will be repercussions from taking his franchise fighter away from HBO Sports, which televised Pacquiao's last eight fights on pay-per-view.
Arum couldn't care less.
Bob Arum bet the Packers throughout the playoffs.
The prominent promoter did the same thing three years ago, when he told anyone who would listen to bet his beloved Giants on the money line before they upset the heavily favored, undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
But Arum's biggest wager this winter wasn't one he could place at a sports book in his hometown of Las Vegas.
He has had a love-hate relationship with HBO Sports executives for several years, largely over what Arum perceives as the network's preferential treatment of boxers represented by Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions and adviser Al Haymon. But the Harvard-educated attorney didn't take Pacquiao to Showtime to make trouble for HBO Sports, which doesn't have a proven pay-per-view performer with Pacquiao at Showtime and embattled Floyd Mayweather Jr. taking another extended break.
Arum is attempting to broaden boxing's fan base by utilizing the considerable reach of CBS, Showtime's parent company and a network that once was heavily involved in the sport.
He already has a commitment from CBS to televise a preview of the event on America's most-watched network sometime in April. Pacquiao-Mosley, scheduled for May 7 in Las Vegas, also will be marketed during the NCAA Tournament and during some of the network's prime-time programming.
It's all part of Arum's mission to bring boxing back to network television, the expansive platform promoters basically abandoned once HBO and Showtime started to pay larger license fees to televise the sport during the late 1980s. No one knows whether CBS' interest in Pacquiao-Mosley is a precursor of that happening, at least on some level.
It's possible that CBS is involved in this particular fight because its executives recognize that the wildly popular Pacquiao, whom they profiled on "60 Minutes" in November, is a transcendent superstar whose political pursuits make him unlike any boxer in the world.
That's a gamble Arum considers well worthwhile, one he hopes pays much larger dividends than he made betting on the Packers.