Not long ago, Showtime released the official PPV buy numbers for the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Conor McGregor boxing match that went down in August. While the buyrate was gigantic, it just came up short as the biggest PPV buyrate in North American history - which went against what McGregor and UFC president Dana White had been saying for some time.
Naturally, both White and McGregor criticized the release of the numbers, and Showtime Sports exec Stephen Espinoza responded to them in kind. Following their social media exchange, Espinoza was a guest on Sirius XM Boxing and further clarified his stance on the issue surrounding the numbers (via MMA Fighting):
“Dana has got a certain style and it’s very successful for him,” Espinoza said. “The one thing I’ll point out — I don’t want to get too much into a back and forth — but we’re a public company and there are regulations, there are legal requirements. We can’t put out press releases giving fake numbers. We have shareholders. We have millions of shareholders.
“When we put something on it, when we say, ‘Here’s a Showtime Sports press release from Mayweather-Pacquiao or Mayweather-Mayweather,’ that has gone through lawyers and everyone has looked at it. It’s factual.”
He also took the time to address McGregor’s aggressive tweet in his direction:
“That’s Conor,” Espinoza said. “You go through his feed and he goes at opponents like that, he goes at business people like that. He goes at referees like that sometimes. That’s him.”
Finally, Espinoza talked about White’s move into boxing. White has recently said that he was not a fan of working with Showtime and won’t do it again. Espinoza was pretty diplomatic in responding, believing White could bring something new to the game:
“As a boxing fan — this is gonna sound strange — I welcome it,” Espinoza said. “Anyone who has ideas, who feels like they can come into the sport and contribute in a positive way, regardless of what those ideas are, sure. I welcome it. Which of us has not sat on the couch and said, ‘I can call a fight better than that, I can call football?’ So from that aspect, if he wants to get involved and maybe he does have ideas that will improve it — maybe his matchmaking, his promoting, his marketing, he can contribute. So from that aspect, I’m happy for him to contribute.”
“I think it would be incredibly arrogant for me to put personal animosity ahead of something that fight fans want,” Espinoza said. “If fight fans say they want to see another [UFC vs. boxing matchup], who am I to say, ‘Nope, I don’t like the guy across the table, so you’re not gonna see it.’ That’s one of the things that’s been wrong with combat sports and boxing in particular in the past.”