We caught a two-for-one lunch deal with HBO's Ross Greenburg this week. No, it wasn't one of those two-for-one type of restaurants. We're talking about the conversation, not the cuisine.
The talk centered around HBO's 24/7 franchise and how the network is now venturing into NASCAR. So to read the NASCAR portion of this post, you will have to click here and visit our Trading Paint blog. For a preview of the upcoming 24/7 Pacquiao-Cotto series, stay right here.
The Pacquiao-Cotto series debuts on Saturday and starts with Miguel getting his ninth tattoo and then saying goodbye to his wife and children in Puerto Rico. He heads to training camp in Tampa. But the real drama occurs in the Philippines, which were ravaged by typhoons and flooding while Pac Man was training in the mountains.
"Manila was under water," said Greenburg. "There were 25 inches of rain and in the midst of all of this, here's Manny Pacquiao training for a fight..."
Pause for effect.
"And we had the only cameras there," added Greenburg.
So compelling was the storm footage that Greenburg sent some over to CNN, which is a sister company.
Pacquiao selected Baguio -- six hours north of Manila by car -- as the site of his training camp because he could do road work in the mountains. But the rains made it nearly impossible to run, so instead, HBO has nice shots of him swimming in an indoor pool while it's storming outside.
Also, according to reports from the Philippines, Pac Man's entourage has grown, which always makes things entertaining.
Joining us for lunch was HBO's Ray Stallone, who said that the ratings for 24/7 continue to rise. "Anytime [Floyd] Mayweather is involved, we see a spike in ratings," said Stallone. "And it's going up in the 18 to 35 demographic. That's so heartening. These are our new fans."
There are a certain generation of people who are forever hooked on boxing because they watched the "Friday Night Fights," with their dad in the 1950s. Perhaps 24/7 has the same impact. Greenburg hears from all kinds of individuals who watch the series, including a lot of celebrities. One of them, NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson, will soon have his own 24/7 experience.
Greenburg first hatched the idea for 24/7 prior to the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Arturo Gatti fight. But HBO decided to wait for a mega fight and thus the series debuted with the Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya showdown.
"Ross knew the future of boxing was not KO Nation," said Stallone.
The unequivocal star of the series has been Money Mayweather.
"In my mind, he and his family launched the show," said Greenburg. "That's what everyone was talking about around the water cooler, the Mayweathers."
So the ultimate 24/7 could end up being Mayweather-Pacquiao, a megafight that should be next if Pacquiao gets past Cotto. Despite the politics that can often cripple boxing, Greenburg feels that fight is too big not to make.
"I think it has to happen," he said. "You knew Leonard had to fight Hearns at some point. You knew Tyson had to fight Spinks at some point. When two fighters are on a collision course, the collision has to happen."