Sugar Ray Leonard was KO'd by Home Box Office on Monday for what the cable network said was a failure to provide HBO an opportunity to bid on the televised rights to the five-time world champion's next fight.
Leonard, a ringside commentator since 1978, fought 11 times on the network, but has not been in the ring since a win over Roberto Duran last December. While no bout has been scheduled, there has been speculation that he will meet junior middleweight Terry Norris early next year."We are saddened to end our broadcasting relationship with Ray this way," HBO Sports Executive Producer Ross Greenburg said in a statement. "Regrettably, however, after more than a decade of work together in the ring and behind the microphone, HBO was not offered an opportunity to bid on the telecast rights to Ray's next fight by his adviser-lawyer Mike Trainer.
"We feel, therefore, if HBO is treated in this fashion, it is inappropriate for Ray to continue as a commentator on world championship boxing telecasts."
Greenburg, reached in his New York office, said he was hurt and perplexed by Leonard's decision.
"It's a sad commentary that this has happened," the HBO executive said. "It's a business decision that they made. Why they did it, only they can answer."
Leonard and Trainer were unavailable for comment.
Greenburg said the split took shape in the last several days after talks with Trainer.