Light heavyweight boxing champion Sergey Kovalev knocked out challenger Nadjib Mohammedi in the third round on Saturday night. He did so wearing the trunks emblazoned with Tulammo logo.
These same trunks Tulammo USA President Ed Grasso said Sergey received clearance to wear only days before the fight and that the undefeated fighter’s promoter Main Events contends he had never been asked not to wear in the first place.
On July 23 Breitbart News cited a National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) article claiming that HBO had demanded the trunks with the ammunition company’s logo not be worn. NSSF said, “Kovalev [had] not made a public response” to HBO’s demands, but that his ties to Tulammo were strong. “The fighter appeared at Tulammo’s SHOT Show booth this past January.”
Gun-rights advocates posit that the subscription channel follows other broadcasters in attempting to block weapons-related advertising. Fox, for instance, banned firearms-related insignias on the gear of UFC fighters appearing on the network’s broadcasts (the UFC has since banned nearly all logos in the wake of its exclusive deal with Reebok) more than three years ago.
After the predictable public backlash against news of a pay-cable channel targeting ammunition advertising for elimination, HBO and Kovalev’s promoter, Main Events, contacted us and claimed that HBO had never made such a request.
“Unlike the other sources cited in your stories,” Main Events CEO Kathy Duva told Breitbart News. “I have personal knowledge of the terms of Sergey’s agreement and dealings with HBO. I am stating unequivocally that HBO has never made an issue of any of his personal sponsors.”
HBO flack Ray Stallone tweeted this author, saying: “This story is false. HBO boxing has made no such request or demand. The story is untrue. You need to correct your post.”
So Breitbart News reached out to Tulammo USA president Ed Grasso, who verified that approximately one month ago he was told Kovalev would not be allowed to wear boxing trunks with the Tulammo logo and that that decision had come from HBO. Kovalev has worn the logo on the network in the past, most notably in his dominant victory over Bernard Hopkins last fall.
But Grasso indicated HBO yielded at some point on July 23, clearing the way for Kovalev to wear the trunks emblazoned with the Tulammo logo.
Throughout this time, Main Events’ Kathy Duva continued to counter claims that HBO had issued any such demands. And Duva holds an important relationship with HBO.
In the weeks leading up the Kovalev vs. Mohammedi bout, Duva told Tha Boxing Voice:
The fact is that when we asked for the mandatory [with Kovalev’s light heavyweight rival Adonis Stevenson], the boxing landscape was very different. Things have changed dramatically. Because of the shift in the landscape our alliance with HBO became so much more important than it had even been before. Not that it wasn’t before, but the fact is HBO is the only company I can deal with.
She obliquely refers to the play by Al Haymon to grab TV time for his stable of fighters at the expense of smaller promotions, such as Main Events. NBC, CBS, ESPN, and Spike TV are among the networks regularly airing Haymon-promoted fights. Duva added, “We made a decision after the boxing landscape changed where we had nowhere else to go but HBO to solidify our relationship with HBO. We had no choice.”
Breitbart News corresponded with Tulammo’s president once the bout between Kovalev and Mohammedi began, noting that Kovalev had indeed donned the trunks bearing the Tulammo logo. Grasso responded, “[That’s] the first thing I looked for when he took off his robe.”
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