HBO’s Sports Emmy-Winning ‘24/7’ Preps for Upcoming Mayweather/Marquez Fight

By John Rice

In April, HBO Sports’ 24/7 series was honored with three Sports Emmy Awards. Now the production team is gearing up for new installments of the series in advance of July’s Floyd Mayweather/Juan Manuel Marquez pay-per-view contest.

The 24/7 concept was introduced in 2007 to promote a battle between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya. According to Dave Harmon, coordinating producer/VP of production for HBO Sports, 24/7 grew out of the idea of “what is the fighter’s current training for a big fight like this. We found that a reality show is the best way to communicate that. We decided to follow the biggest fighters in the biggest fight.”

The success of that first series led to four subsequent multi-part events. Among them: the Sports Emmy-winning shows on the Calzaghe/Jones fight, which were honored for Outstanding Editing and Outstanding Edited Sports Special, and De La Hoya/Pacquiao, recognized as Outstanding Edited Sports Series/anthology.

Harmon believes that the success of the series is in “the way the show looks and the way the storylines are presented in a reality, documentary-style show.” Crews follow each fighter’s camp for approximately a month leading up to the fight, delivering half-hour shows every week. “With a one-week or less turnaround from shooting to delivering on-air, that is the biggest accomplishment of the show,” he says. “We can shoot [material] on Monday or Tuesday, and it’s in the show on Saturday in a completely edited, in-context [presentation] with the storyline. We’re able to combine that with music, a style, and editing that is unique.”

Each crew shoots with a Panasonic Varicam and a P2 camera. Material is couriered daily to HBO Sports in New York, where the shows are edited using Avid systems.

The upcoming Mayweather/Marquez series provides its own unique challenges, says Harmon. “We’ve never had an exclusively Spanish-speaking fighter in camp before,” he says. “We will be going to Mexico City and having our crew live with him there. It will certainly provide a different culture, a different way of training.” Those segments of the shows will be subtitled.

Mayweather is a challenge himself for the production crews. “The people who have seen [him] in his two previous series consider Floyd Mayweather to be the best reality star in sports history,” says Harmon. “In sports, he has transcended the mundane of sports and has absolutely become a ‘must-see.’” He credits the combination of Mayweather’s personality and unpredictability.

The fighter, he points out, is likely to decide to train at 3 in the morning, “then he’ll come back and do something at the doctors at 10 in the morning, and he’ll decide he’s going to work out in the gym and play basketball at 5 in the morning the next day.”

It takes two separate crews to cover the fighter, who is coming out of retirement for this fight.

Harmon believes that the 24/7 shows have brought new viewers and fans to HBO’s boxing coverage. “I’m not privy to the actual numbers, but there are statistics that show more people are watching these pay-per-views because of 24/7. When I go to a fight that’s been supported by 24/7, people refer to episodes of the series. You can tell the series has had an effect on people and their interest in the fight.”

The Mayweather/Marquez 24/7 series premieres on Sunday June 27 and will continue on the following two Sunday nights (July 4 and 11). The final show will air on Friday July 17 in advance of the pay-per-view fight on Saturday July 18.