Boxing fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
Premium cable rivals Showtime and HBO have agreed to a deal to air the April 29 boutbetween IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and former unified heavyweight kingpin WladimirKlitschko.
The vacant IBO and WBA Heavyweight Championships will also be on the line.
The dual-broadcasting of the fight issomething that has never been done —a bout which will air solely oncable TVand not pay-per-view.
Showtime will get the 4:15 p.m. ETlive broadcast, and HBO will air the replay in primetime at 10.45 p.m. ET. Both networks will send their broadcast teams to London'sWembley Stadium,the fight's venue, which is expectedto sell-out.
HBO is Klitschko's broadcast partner, while Showtime is the exclusive home toJoshua's fights.
One of boxing fans' biggest complaints is that opposing networks resist working together. Fighters in potential superfights are often on different networks. The continued negotiations between HBO, Showtime and others is a positive sign for boxing.
This is only the third time Showtime and HBO have worked together. First, for the2002 heavyweight title fight between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson;Second,the 2015 welterweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
"We are thrilled to be delivering Joshua vs. Klitschko to the U.S. audience live on Showtime,” said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of ShowtimeSports. “On the afternoon ofApril 29, U.S. sports fans will be able to tune in to Showtime to join a record-breaking crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium and a worldwide television audience in witnessing an event that represents not only the contesting of the heavyweight world championship, but potentially the changing of the guard in the most influential division in boxing. We are proud to be Anthony Joshua’s exclusive U.S. television partner as he attempts to establish his legacy against the legendary Wladimir Klitschko, live on Showtime Championship Boxing, as Showtime continues its unrivaled commitment to the sport."
HBO Sports executive vice president Peter Nelson is happy all parties were able to come together to air the biggest heavyweight title fight in boxing since Lewis-Tyson.
"Both promoters and both networks have found a solution that enables boxing fans in the U.S. to watch the World Heavyweight Championship. This agreement ensures that our subscribers have access to same-day primetime coverage of the fight. It will mark Wladimir Klitschko’s 22nd appearance on HBO and the first for Anthony Joshua.”
Both Joshua and Klitschko are Olympic gold medalists. In a battle of young lion vs. old lion,Joshua, 27, is 18-0 with 18 knockouts but hasn't faced anyone of Klitschko's caliber. The 41-year-old Ukraine nativeis64-4 with 53 knockouts, but is coming off a near two-year hiatus, his last fight resulting ina lossto Tyson Fury in Nov. 2015.
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can find his podcast, "The Fight Club Chicago," and subscribe on iTunes. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA.