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HBO SPORTS LOOKING FOR A KNOCKOUT WITH BOXING TOURNEY
Published July 6, 1995
"Making a second effort within 10 years to produce a universally acknowledged world champion," HBO Sports is negotiating with Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, George Foreman, Michael Moorer, Evander Holyfield, Herbie Hide, Ray Mercer, and Tommy Morrison "for a big-money tournament to start in October" and end in June 1996. All the fighters HBO seeks to sign are current or former champs of the WBC, WBA, IBF, or WBO, and "none is under contract to promoter Don King." HBO Sports President Seth Abraham "said the seven-fight tournament would generate $75 million-$100 million in television rights fees" and that he "was confident the tournament would take place." Abraham: "We're very far down the road. The fight community responds to two things: money and money, and everything else is tied for last place." More Abraham: "The fans don't really care about the organizations anymore. Their champions don't mean anything. ... No longer is the No. 1 the best fighter. He is now the best politically connected" (AP/ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/6). Abraham did note, "A signed contract is only the first round of negotiation" (THE DAILY). EARLY REAX: In this morning's Baltimore SUN, Milton Kent says HBO's move "is a brilliant one, on two counts." Kent: "First, it has arranged a solid block of programming with fighters the public wants to see. More importantly, the network will assure itself a piece of the [Mike] Tyson gravy train at the tournament's end, since the winner will have some form of title" (BALTIMORE SUN, 7/6).