The fight of the millennium -- so far -- will be held on Saturday night in Las Vegas, and it’s hard to take a lap around the TV channels without running into Mayweather-Pacquiao programming this week.
The big show itself, the undercards and the main event, will be live on pay-per-view, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern. HBO and Showtime are co-producing the broadcast.
HBO this week has been showing a one-hour documentary titled “Mayweather/Pacquiao: At Last,” which can also be seen on YouTube. The show is a good introduction to the two fighters, their support teams, promoters, and the reasons why it took so long for the fight to come together:
HBO will carry live coverage of several other events this week on the pay-cable network, while simultaneously streaming them for free on the HBO Boxing channel on YouTube (youtube.com/HBOBoxing). Those events include the fighters’ final press conference at 4 p.m. on Wednesday; the weigh-in at 6 p.m. Friday, and a Countdown Live pre-fight show at 8 p.m. Saturday.
ESPN goes all in
With all that’s going on in sports this week -- the NFL Draft, Kentucky Derby, the World Golf Championships tournament in San Francisco, the Sprint Cup race in Talladega, Ala., the NHL and NBA playoffs, and Major League Baseball, along with the fight -- ESPN’s resources are stretched coast to coast.
Lindsay Czarniak is anchoring the 6 p.m. SportsCenter from Las Vegas on Wednesday and Friday, and Thursday’s edition from Chicago, site of the NFL Draft. Steve Levy hosts Thursday night’s 11:30 p.m. SportsCenter from the draft in Chicago, and Saturday’s 9 p.m. “Red Carpet Special” and post-fight SportsCenter broadcasts from Las Vegas.
Czarniak and Levy took part in a conference call with media writers this week. Levy talked about the importance of first-night draft coverage from Chicago.
“I'm told and it gives you an idea how big the idea the event is, the draft, it will probably be the second highest rated SportsCenter of the year,” he said. “And think about that. That's three and a half hours after the first couple of picks are already made. But that's the appetite of the NFL fan.”
Levy said he hopes the fight lives up to the hype.
“You know, it's nowhere near a Super Bowl in terms of the length of game, and yet we're giving it complete Super Bowl treatment and then some,” he said.
Can the fight move boxing into the top tier of sports that Americans pay attention to? Czarniak thinks it can.
“I was just having this conversation with one of my colleagues, Stephen A. Smith,” she said. “I think, yes, it has the potential to create more buzz.
“Stephen A. this morning was talking about how obviously boxing -- to our fans, to our demographic -- it's lost its edge. It's lost the gravitas. … But I do think that that's why certainly we are putting so much effort into our coverage. I think that's why this fight came together in the first place, it is to sort of resurrect the sport.”
Showtime is owned by CBS, which means Mayweather-Pacquiao programming on CBS Sports Network as well as Showtime and the broadcast network. Showtime has a documentary of its own, “Inside Mayweather vs. Pacquiao,” which airs in four parts throughout the week.
CBS Sports Network will air coverage from Friday evening’s weigh-in.
Mauro Ranallo of Showtime Sports is hosting a daily show online called #MayPac: Daily. It will be posted each night through Friday at http://www.sho.com/sho/sports/home and Youtube.com/shosports.
Showtime will also air “Countdown Live,” at 8 p.m. Saturday.
Fox Sports 1 gets in on the action with boxing programming this week from Las Vegas, starting with “America’s Pregame” at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Host Mike Hill will be joined this week by guest analysts including Evander Holyfield, Bernard Hopkins, Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi. The week concludes with “Fox Sports Live” on Saturday night, following the fight.