Arum says Pacquiao-Bradley III generated 400-500K PPV buys
By Chris Williams: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says the April 9 fight between Manny Pacquiao (58-6-2, 38 KOs) and Tim Bradley (33-2-1, 13 KOs), which was their third fight together, lost money. Arum says the fight generated between 400,000 to 500,000 PPV buys. That sounds way too high to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fight card generated only 300,000 PPV buys. The Pacquiao-Bradley 3 fight was televised on HBO pay-per-view, and both fighters were given big guaranteed money for the fight. Pacquiao received $20 million in guaranteed money, and Bradley got $4 million.
According to Arum, the Pacquiao-Bradley 3 event lost money. Just how much is unclear. Arum should have matched Pacquiao against a dangerous opponent if he wanted to bring in a lot of PPV buys. It would have probably taken someone like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez to lure angry fans back to see Pacquiao fight again after many of the fans felt burned by his previous fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Taking a soft touch in Bradley was a stupid bit of match-making by Arum. He really blew it. Someone from the Top Rank organization should have told Arum that he was making a mistake in putting Pacquiao vs. Bradley for a third time. It was a big mistake to put them back in with each other. Pacquiao had already proven he was the better fighter in the previous two fights they had, so there was no point in a third fight.
What works once or twice rarely works three times. The first two Pacquiaio-Bradley fights brought in good PPV numbers. Putting them back in together for a third time looked like just greed rather than there being a need for the fight. When you do things for the wrong reasons, this is what you get, low PPV numbers.
“It will be somewhere between those numbers, 400,000 and 500,000. It’s all being added up, but it will be closer to 400,000 than 500,000. Terrible,” Arum said to ESPN.com. “Yes, it loses money,” Arum said. “It was not one of our big successes. It happens. We’re big boys. Do I feel good about it? No.”
In hindsight, it was crazy for the 84-year-old Arum to make the Pacquiao-Bradley 3 fight in the first place, because anyone with their head screwed on straight would have told the aging promoter that he was making a MAJOR mistake by matching Bradley and Pacquiao again. The timing for the fight was absolutely terrible with it coming after the Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight.
There were a lot of boxing fans that felt they were ripped off in that fight, given the huge $100 price tag for the fight on PPV, and for the sky high tickets. The Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight turned out to be a total bore with neither fighter willing to take chances. The undercard was basically nothing but mismatches involving no names. With the kind of money that fans were paying for the fight, the organizers for the card should have at least included a good undercard.
Pacquiao is now retired from the sport, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be returning. If he does, then Arum is going to need to think hard about the kind of match-making he’s doing for the soon to be 38-year-old Filipino fighter. Arum can’t just stick him in with Bradley for a fourth time or put him in with one of his other less than popular Top Rank stable fighters. Arum needs to go outside of his Top Rank organization to put him in with fighters that have fan bases like Canelo or Gennady Golovkin.
It won’t be enough to match Pacquiao against other elite welterweights like Kell Brook, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, Amir Khan or Keith Thurman. At this point, I think the fans are so angry at Pacquiao from the Mayweather fiasco that the only way they’re going to come back is if he faces someone that he’ll surely lose to.
The fans would likely pay to see Pacquiao lose. But I don’t think they would pay to see Pacquiao fight Mayweather again or any of the above mentioned welterweights. I think Pacquiao would have to be in a nearly unwinnable fight for the fans to come back. Pacquiao would likely never agree to fight Golovkin because he could get seriously hurt against him. But against someone like Canelo, Pacquiao would have a slight chance of winning the fight, and I think that’s what a lot of fans would like to see. They would want to see if Pacquiao can beat someone that he’s not favored to best.
If you look at Pacquiao’s fights in the seven years, there’s only been the Mayweather fight where he wasn’t the favorite to win. Arum matched Pacquiao against guys that he was always expected to beat. It’s dull when you have the A-side fighter always matched against weaker guys. I think the interest in the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight was largely due to Pacquiao being the underdog. The only way you’re going to see Pacquiao a serious underdog again would be if he were matched against Canelo.
“Certainly the pushback from Manny’s gay remarks killed us,” Arum said. “It hurt us a lot. But I think it was also less a reaction to the match than a reaction to the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.”
The lack of interest in the Pacquiao vs. Bradley 3 fight was definitely because of the angry fans from the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight. Arum is correct. It’s more than that though. It was dumb to Pacquiao back in with Bradley because it looked like a pure greed move. You don’t make a greed move after the fiasco of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. What should have been done was Pacquiao being put into a fight where he would likely lose.
Arum should have done that. He also should have dropped the PPV cost of the fight to give back to the fans. Arum obviously wasn’t going to make it a free fight for the fans, but he could have at least matched Pacquiao against someone that would likely have beaten him like Canelo.
If I were Pacquiao’s promoter, I would have never even thought for a second of matching him against Bradley again. I would have realized that it would have been a failure. Why the 84-year-old Arum couldn’t see that the Pacquiao-Bradley 3 fight would be a failure is unclear. If he can’t see that certain match-ups are not going to create PPV buys, then he needs someone in his organization that can help him not make mistakes like that in future cards.
With the lack of interest in the Pacquiao vs. Bradley fight being clear ahead of time, Arum should have given Pacquiao and Bradley smaller guaranteed money. I’m not sure how much money was lost by Top Rank in this fight card, but they should have seen it coming ahead of time.