When boxer Oscar De La Hoya fights Stevie Forbes tomorrow on HBO you will be able to see the fight for free (well, “free” if you already have HBO.)

It is De La Hoya’s first non-pay per view fight since March, 2001. As his career winds down De La Hoya, a savy hall of fame promoter as well as boxer, said he wanted to give back to his fans. Thus, the free fight:

“I’m more than willing to fight on free TV because of what it would do for boxing,” he told one newspaper. He later added to another publication: “We should return to our roots and … our fights should be televised on free television.”

Over the years, in 18 Pay Per View fights, De La Hoya has brought in $626 million in PPV buys.

If De La Hoya wanted to “give back” why didn’t he put the fight on network television? Surprisingly, the networks weren’t that interested. HBO announcer Jim Lampley  (also a veteran of the networks) says,

“I’d think any network would recognize an attraction like De La Hoya, but it falls outside the programming patterns of free, over-the-air network philosophy. Even if Oscar said he really wanted to do it free, I’m not sure who’d jump and at what price.”

HBO was happy to take the fight. Even if they’re not charging for it. De La Hoya’s last fight versus Floyd Mayweather brought in a record $134 million. With $626 million already in the bank, both HBO and De La Hoya could afford to be generous.

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