By Patrick McHugh: HBO decided recently not to televise the November 5 fight between Top Rank promoted welterweights Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas for their fight at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. HBO reportedly wants to televise the Pacquiao-Vargas fight on October 29 in order to package it with the Tyson Fury vs. Wladimir Klitschko fight card.
Showtime commentator Paulie Malignaggi was surprised that HBO chose not to televise the Pacquiao-Vargas fight because he still sees the Filipino star as capable of bringing in pay-per-view buys at this point in his career, even though his last fight against Tim Bradley was said to have done poorly in not selling what he’d done in the past.
HBO has a fight on PPV in November between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev on November 19, and they don’t want to have a second fight undercutting that one between Pacquiao and Vargas. It’s unclear whether they felt that the Ward-Kovalev fight has the better potential to create PPV sales. Asking boxing fans to purchase two PPV events in the same month is a big much. One fight, likely the Pacquiao-Vargas fight, would do better numbers and the second fight between Ward and Kovalev poorer numbers because the fans might want to hold back from paying for a second PPV event.
“That’s interesting, man. I didn’t know [HBO passed on televising Pacquiao vs. Vargas on pay-per-view]. That’s going to be kind of crazy. Pacquiao’s a guy that still sells. Jessie’s earned it, man. You got to give him a shot,” said Malignaggi to Fighthype.com. “Whether you like someone’s style or not, he’s earned it. At the end of the day, Jessie only has one loss to Tim Bradley. You’ve got to at least give him the opportunity to extend himself at the top level,” said Malignaggi.
I think HBO would have agreed to televise Pacquiao’s fight on November 5 if he had taken on Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman, Errol Spence or Miguel Cotto. In other words, if Pacquiao had fought a popular fighter that would help the fight sell. But a fight between Pacquiao and Vargas is a really bad one in the minds of a lot of fans because it’s a step down from Pacquiao’s last fight against Tim Bradley.
It’s understandable why Pacquiao’s 84-year-old promoter Bob Arum matched him against Vargas, because he promotes him and there’s no sharing of money with an outside promoter. But that’s still not a good fight beause Vargas isn’t a big name and he was reently beaten by Tim Bradley.
It’s too bad that Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum chose to stage the Pacquiao-Vargas fight in November, because he’s competing now with the Ward-Kovalev fight. Arum still plans on having the fight shown in November on the 5th, but he could have it shown on Showtime, ESPN or he might distribute it himself. Having the fight on November 5 before the November 19 fight between Ward and Kovalev might undercut the PPV sales for that fight. That’s not good for them.
Ward and Kovalev are going to are going to be around a lot longer than Pacquiao, who will be retiring soon. That’s why it’s likely better for HBO to televise the arguably more important fight between Ward and Kovalev, because these are going to be stars for a long time.