Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas = Tough sell on PPV
By Chris Williams: If Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is going to interest boxing fans to drop $69.99 on the Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas on HBO pay-per-view on November 5, then he’s going to need to start marketing the fight really hard starting immediately. I cannot see Pacquiao-Vargas being a fight that will bring in a ton of PPV buys.
My guess is the Pacquiao-Vargas fight will be lucky if it hits even 300,000 pay-per-view buys on HBO. The positive for Pacquiao is that he’ll likely get his first knockout since 2009, because I can’t see Vargas surviving for 12 rounds against him. No way.
This fight has knockout written all over it if Pacquiao puts his foot on the accelerator and doesn’t show mercy to the 27-year-old Vargas. With the way that Vargas will come after Pacquiao, it will likely lead to Vargas getting knocked out, because he won’t try and save himself like Chris Algieri did and other Pacquiao opponents.
It was revealed on Wednesday night by Lance Pugmire of the LA Times that Pacquiao has made his decision to face WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas for his comeback fight on 11/5. It was a logical selection made by Pacquiao, because the 84-year-old Arum reportedly gave him the option of picking between Vargas and Terence Crawford. If Arum had broadened the choices to some really interesting fighters like Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Errol Spence, Shawn Porter, Adrien Broner, or Amir Khan, my guess is we’d have seen Pacquiao make a completely different selection. But with Arum offering Pacquiao only two options of Crawford or Vargas, it was an easy one for Pacquiao to choose from.
I’m sure Arum would have been more than happy if Pacquiao had selected the 28-year-old Crawford, but the guy has a number of negatives in his fighting style, lack of popularity, and his charisma or lack thereof that likely caused him to get passed over by Pacquiao. I think Arum needs to remake Crawford from top to bottom if he wants him to get the Pacquiao fight in 2017. If Arum can change Crawford’s fighting style to have him become a brawler that never moves an inch from the center of the ring, I think he’ll get the Pacquiao fight and become a star in the future. Crawford needs to become a stationary or a come forward type of fighter for him to be a more appealing option for Pacquiao in my opinion. It wouldn’t hurt if Crawford forgot about his defense completely and just winged power shots the way Golovkin does.
It might also be a good idea for Arum to load the Pacquiao-Vargas undercard with a boatload of Top Rank’s best fighters like WBC/WBO light welterweight champion, WBO super middleweight belt holder Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, former WB 140lb champion Viktor Postol, WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko, WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire, former WBA featherweight champion Nicholas Walters, and WBO featherweight belt holder Oscar Valdez. Do I see Arum adding any of those fighters to the Pacquiao? Nope. Maybe he might add someone like Postol to the Pacquiao vs. Vargas card, but no way do I see him throwing guys like Valdez, Donaire, Lomachenko, Walters or Ramirez on the card. It would obviously drive up the cost of the card and likely mean less profits.
“Retirement doesn’t suit Manny right now,” Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz said to the latimes.com. “Boxing is in his blood. When he trains, it’s like a pressure-release valve. You can see a dramatic difference in his mood… he’s happy. It’s amazing what training and fighting does for him.”
At this point, I don’t know if it’s possible to create a huge amount of interest in the Pacquiao vs. Vargas fight no matter what Arum does. He can certainly create a huge 11-city tour around the United States in taking the two fighters to all the major cities so that he can introduce the boxing fans to Vargas. That would obviously help the Pacquiao-Vargas promotion, but it would cost money, a lot of it. I would like to think that Arum would be willing to put money into the promotion to make it a huge success, but I don’t think he’ll want to go the extra yard to sell the fight due to the cost. Unlike the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Pacquiao fight last year that didn’t need to be sold to the boxing public in terms promotions, the Pacquiao vs. Vargas fight will need a ton of marketing to make it a success. Unfortunately, I can’t see it being marketed to the hilt the way it would need to for it to bring in more than 300K pay-per-view buys. Perhaps I’ll be wrong and the fight will bring in tremendous PPV numbers, but I don’t think I will be.
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