HBO, TVKO, Bowe sign socko deal

HBO Sports and Time Warner Sports’ pay-per-view network TVKO cut an exclusive deal with heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe for six title bouts, an agreement that may be worth more than $ 100 million to its promoters.

What Time Warner is hailing as “the biggest, most extensive TV boxing deal ever made,” calls for Bowe to fight the six fights live either on HBO and/or TVKO, probably through 1994.

The first fight under this deal will take place on Feb. 6, live on HBO. The opponent is not set, but TVKO senior vice president Mark Taffet said possible opponents include Alex Stewart, Alex Garcia, Michael Dokes and Francesco Damiani.

The Feb. 6 fight will be Bowe’s first since he won the title vs. Evander Holyfield in November. That fight, carried by TVKO, was the fifth-largest grossing PPV event, with 900,000 buys worth about $ 35 million. PPV matches usually cost $ 35-$ 40 million.

Taffet expects two of the six fights under the deal will air on HBO, with the others airing on TVKO, with a delayed broadcast window.

There is no exact value on the deal since the final payout depends upon buy rates, but Taffet projected it will be worth more than $ 100 million.

The deal is good news for the boxing-dependent PPV industry. Last year, $ 85 million to $ 90 million of PPV’s $ 245 million in annual revenues came from boxing — down from 1991’s $ 120 million in boxing PPV revenues out of a total PPV pie of $ 240 million.

Taffet believes that if Bowe fights at least two or three times in 1993, it could lead the PPV industry out of its doldrums. To date, the largest PPV fight was the Evander Holyfield-George Foreman fight of April 1991. That attracted 1.4 million buys worth $ 52 million in PPV revenues.

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