Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza has proven himself to be a committed figure in the sport of boxing. All one has to do is look at his involvement in the game in recent years, from helping produce several high-profile events, including many pay per views with Floyd Mayweather.
With the recent announcement that Mayweather is set to come out of retirement to face young kickboxing and MMA superstar Tenshin Nasukawa on New Year’s Eve, Espinoza admits that he knew beforehand of Floyd’s move.
“I did know,” Espinoza told Fight Hub. “And this goes back to that Manny Pacquiao interview, the rave. The EDM show. And maybe a little bit after that Floyd came out with a statement and he said ‘I’ll be back in Tokyo for a big boxing event before the end of the year.’ So Floyd chooses his words carefully. So when I heard that I said, well maybe he’s making an appearance, maybe he’s promoting; he didn’t say ‘I’m fighting in a big boxing match’. I knew it was something a little bit outside the norm, and then I’ve had some recent conversations with him.”
And despite knowing Mayweather so well over time, Espinoza admits it’s an actual fight that is rather peculiar.
“Look, this comes out of the blue for a lot of people, it is a strange event,” said Espinoza. “The kid’s a superstar, the kick-boxer. I mean he does stuff in the ring that you only see in martial arts movies. The only guy I’ve seen do stuff like that on a competitive level is, you know, Cung Le in his prime, used to do some stuff that blew people’s minds. This kid is a whole different level. But you’re right, he’s smaller, he’s a kick-boxer.”
People have been so caught off guard by the fight that we have yet to fully know what the exact rules, or weight class, surrounding the fight will be.
“There’s a lot that’s still undetermined,” said Espinoza. “The rules of the fight, how long a fight, all the arrangements, that’s why all the distribution isn’t set. I mean, from my perspective, it’s a little premature. I probably wouldn’t have scheduled a press conference if I was in their shoes. Clearly I’m not. But there still remains a lot of negotiation to do internally, and from our perspective we’re sort of wait and see what kind of event it is, when exactly it’s happening; we know it’s New Year’s Eve, we don’t know the timing exactly, and then we’ll see.”
It has been revealed that the fight will not be distributed as a big pay-per-view event in the states, but who knows if SHOWTIME will somehow help promote it. Either way, you can sense the respect from Espinoza.
“Look, it’s a unique event,” said Espinoza. “Any time Floyd fights, no matter what the circumstances, it’s a worldwide event and he’s constantly breaking new grounds so you give it to him. This is breaking new ground without question.“