Arum: I didn’t say HBO didn’t accept Khan as an opponent for Pacquiao

By Boxing News - 02/11/2016 - Comments

Image: Arum: I didn’t say HBO didn’t accept Khan as an opponent for PacquiaoBy Chris Williams: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says HBO didn’t reject Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) as an opponent for Manny Pacquiao’s next and perhaps final fight of his career on April 9 on HBO PPV. Arum says he was told by them that WBO welterweight champion Tim Bradley was a more difficult opponent for Pacquiao, and a fighter that would bring in more sales than Khan or Terence Crawford.

Arum said previously that the cable and satellite distributors had rejected Khan as an opponent for Pacquiao. If that’s the case, then it’s going to be bad if the Khan vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight brings in many more pay-per-view buys than the Pacquiao-Bradley fight on HBO PPV.

“They didn’t feel Khan would do anything,” Arum said to the about the cable and satellite distributors rejecting Khan as an opponent for Pacquiao. “[Khan] has a spotty record, hasn’t done great ratings. Why would we feel he’d do well on pay-per-view?”

What is interesting is that the satellite and cable distributors did not reject Khan for Canelo fight on HBO. If what Arum says is true about Khan having been rejected by the satellite and cable distributors, then they should have done the same thing with Khan for the Canelo fight.

Arum is going to have egg on his face if the Canelo-Khan fight brings in monstrous PPV numbers and the Pacquiao-Bradley 3 fight, which few boxing fans care about, does poorly. It will make Arum look like he messed up in making the right decision for his fighter Pacquiao. When you lose a ton of money through lost PPV buys due to an amazingly poor decision to stick the Pacquiao-Bradley down the throats of the boxing public rather than getting Khan as the opponent for Pacquiao, it just makes the 84-year-old Arum look bad in my view.

“I didn’t say they [HBO] didn’t accept Khan as an opponent, because they have nothing to say if it’s a pay-per-view fight,” Arum said to Thaboxingvoice. “They had nothing to say with [Golden Boy Promotions CEO] Oscar [De La Hoya]. They had nothing to say with me. They said that Bradley was a much more formidable opponent [for Pacquiao], a much more salable opponent than either Khan or Terence Crawford. Now you take Bradley out of there, now that he’s fighting Pacquiao, and Oscar, who Terence Crawford, is not going to put him in with Canelo. He’s [Crawford] too small. So they get Khan to take Canelo, and he’s perfectly acceptable. HBO couldn’t come up with anybody who was more salable, who might be more weight appropriate. I think weight is less of an issue due to the fact that Canelo is the naturally bigger guy, who hits pretty hard, and Khan has shown a weakness in taking a good punch. He’s been knocked out a number of times. So people say that if those guys knock Khan out, Canelo will have his way with Khan. But fights are fights; we could be very surprised,” Arum said.

Some boxing fans believe that it was Arum who personally rejected Khan as an opponent for Pacquiao, because they felt that Arum wanted to go with an in house fight matching two of his Top Rank stable fighters in Pacquiao and Bradley fighting each other rather than letting a non-Top Rank fighter like Khan get the fight against Pacquiao.

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With Bradley being selected for Pacquiao, there would be no sharing of the profits for the fight with an outside promotional company. In other words, all the money would be in house for Top Rank and their fighters. Pacquiao supposedly made the decision himself to pick Bradley rather than Khan or Crawford. If that’s the case, then Arum and Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz should have tried to talk him out of it.

When you see the huge amount of attention being paid on the Canelo-Khan fight, and the scant attention being put on the Pacquiao-Bradley fight, it shows that someone made a big mistake in selecting Bradley for Pacquiao’s April 9 opponent. I think it was a huge mistake that could result in tons of lost money for Pacquiao from lost PPV sales that he won’t get because he’s fighting Bradley again rather than Khan.

Whether HBO or the cable and satellite distributors talked down the idea of Khan fighting Pacquiao, Arum should have overruled them and went with Khan as Manny’s opponent anyway. It’s just common sense. Khan is someone that Pacquiao hadn’t fought before, and he would have brought something different to the table for Pacquiao. Of course, what we don’t know is if Pacquiao ducked Khan due to how difficult he is to fight. That’s a possibility too. Maybe it was Pacquiao who made the final decision in choosing retread opponent Bradley rather than Arum. It’s still a poor decision to have gone with Bradley for Pacquiao, because he’s already fought the guy twice and arguably beat him both times.

How are you going to sale a third fight to the boxing public? If Arum discounted the PPV price by dropping it from $70 to $5, then I think it would be well worth buying. Arum isn’t going to do that though. He’s going to sell it like one of Pacquiao’s normal fights. My guess is the fight will be lucky if brings in 300,000 buys on HBO. I think it won’t do better than 150,000 buys, because it’s a stinker of a fight and it’s coming at a bad time after the stink of the Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight last year. That was the fight that Pacquiao revealed that he had a shoulder injury afterwards. The prices were raised to the rough for the fight and the product was horrible. Mayweather did his part in boxing beautifully for 12 rounds, but Pacquiao fought like he was scared to get hit. After getting nailed by some nice right hands from Mayweather in the first two rounds, Pacquiao fought timidly the rest of the way. After a terrible fight like that, Arum and Pacquiao should have known better than to trot out Bradley for a third fight. That was just a really bone-headed move.

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