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Caesars top man hopes HBO won’t blackout fight

Michael Traum

Rich Rose, president of Caesars World sports, was on hand for the pre-fight press conference Thursday at Caesars Tahoe. Rose is in charge of all facets of producing Caesars-sponsored sporting events.

Many Lake Tahoe and Northern Nevada fight fans have been wondering whether the WBC heavyweight title fight between Lenox Lewis and Henry Akinwande will be televised locally on Home Box Office or be subject to blackout.

Rose had the answer.



“If the event sells out, we will lift the blackout. The standard contract is that if we sellout 24 hours before the fight, the blackout gets lifted, Rose said. “If by 4 p.m. Friday, if we’re sold out, we’ll definitely lift the blackout.”

While tickets are still available, starting at $75, Rose was confident the 2,100-seat showroom would be filled. In addition, he said that while the first concern is to fill the room, no one involved wants to keep local HBO customers from receiving the fight.



“You want as many people to see this as possible. You need more things like this happening for boxing. If it sells out, it’ll be up to the local cable companies how they want to show it,” he said.

Local cable operators currently plan to show the broadcast taped-delayed at 7 p.m. (P.S.T.)

Rose, like seemingly everyone who’s witnessed or seen the event, had an opinion, both professionally and personally, in regards to the Mike Tyson biting incident last week.

“It’s unfair to bastardize boxing because of one incident. That’s not to say it didn’t happen or make light of it. But you have understand what it was and learn from it. You can’t let the betterment of the fans and the industry not take precedent over anything,” he said. “To tarnish all the great champions in the sport because of this is unfair. For people to say arbitrarily that boxing is screwed up, you can’t.

“One guy made a mistake and he’s going to have the opportunity to pay for it. Hopefully he’ll be a better person coming back, if he ever gets the chance.”

Rose said that if Tyson ever receives a license to box again, Caesars would treat the event like any other.

“We’ve been doing this for more than 20 years. We will continue to do this because we want it for our customers and our cities – Las Vegas, Tahoe, Atlantic City – there’s a call for this,” he said. “Most importantly, we’re never going to bring the Super Bowl to Lake Tahoe or the World Series to Las Vegas. But, when you get a fight like this, that’s the ultimate event in boxing. As long as we have the opportunity, we’re going to do that. You just plan, take your precautions and go about your business. You can’t live in fear.

“If he is relicensed in the future and it’s determined that he paid his debt, it’s no different than when he got out of jail. He was convicted of a crime, had the opportunity to pay for that crime and then he was allowed to pursue his career. I don’t see the difference. If he is allowed to fight again, we would look at it the same way we did last time.”


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