By Chris Williams: It looks like Top Rank promoter Bob Arum won’t be going with either of the main cable networks HBO or Showtime to televise former eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao’s next fight against World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Jessie Vargas (27-1, 10 KOs) on November 5. HBO passed on the fight for whatever reason. Supposedly, HBO didn’t want to televise the Pacquiao-Vargas fight on the date that Arum wanted it to take place because they already have the Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev fight taking place in November.
HBO is said to not wanting to carry two PPV fights in the same month. But you have to wonder whether the network perceived the Pacquiao-Vargas fight as being a potential poor one in terms of fan interest and PPV buys, because it’s not a great fight at all. There are many boxing fans that are griping in forums on the internet that the match not being worthy of PPV. Arum wants the Pacquiao-Vargas fight to be on PPV, but it’s simply not a good fight in terms of it being an exciting match-up. Vargas is seen as a beatable champion, as he already proved last year in losing to Tim Bradley.
“Just like most human beings, you go and accept the status quo,” Arum said to RingTV.com. “And so for years we’ve had this plan of having HBO distribute and it was convenient. Now, because of their position that we we’re too close to the Ward-Kovalev fight (on Nov. 19), we suddenly realized — who the hell needs them?”
Arum can save money by not paying HBO 7 ½ percent in distributer charges. Whether the Pacquiao-Vargas fight can do well on PPV without it being televised on HBO is the big question.
With Arum choosing to have Top Rank take control of the PPV for the Pacquiao vs. Vargas fight, he’ll have advertising on networks like CBS, ABC and NBC to promote the fight. Arum wants to have footage of Pacquiao working at his job as a senator in the Philippines. Arum thinks that the fans will find this interesting. Personally, I’m not sure that the average boxing fan will find it interesting to watch Pacquiao working at his job as a senator.
Hopefully for Arum and Top Rank’s sake, they limit the footage of Pacquiao working at his senatorial job, because that could put the fans to sleep and make them want to turn the channel. It might be interesting to someone that is interested in politics, but my guess is the average fan will have zero interest in watching any footage of Pacquiao working as a senator. Arum might be better off having the political stuff edited out and left on the cutting room floor if he doesn’t want to risk boring the fans with this footage. It would be better for Pacquiao’s political job to be quickly mentioned in passing. if I’m watching the telecast and they show a bunch of footage of Pacquiao working in his senatorial job, I’m turning the channel. I can’t be bothered to sit through dull stuff like that. There are too many channels to watch and I hate poltics as much as I hate MMA. Stuff is boring. Arum should instead have a lot of replays shown of Pacquiao six or seven years ago when he was still fighting at the top of his game. His last fight against Bradley wasn’t so great because he was mostly just using his left hand. His surgically repaired right shoulder was rarely used in that fight.
One major change that Arum will be making is eliminating the replay of the Pacquiao-Vargas fight for a week later. HBO usually televises pay-per-view fights a week later on regular HBO, and this leads many boxing fans to save their money in order to wait a week before seeing it on regular HBO. Arum said that won’t happen now that his company will be carrying the fight on PPV. Whether this will lead more fans to want to purchase the fight knowing that this is their only chance of seeing it is unclear.
My guess is the average fan will still think they can see it a week later and they won’t bother purchasing it. But I don’t think the fans will be too bothered about not seeing the Pacquiao-Vargas fight, because it’s just not a good one in my view. If fans think it’s a worthy match-up, they’ll purchase it. if not, then they’ll sending a message to the 84-year-old Arum that he needs to do a better job of picking out opponents for Pacquiao, because putting him in with Vargas isn’t going to fly.
“Everybody and his mother knew that they could wait one week and see it for free on delay,” Arum said. “That ain’t the case anymore.”
I don’t think the fans are going to be bothered too much by not being able to see the Pacquiao vs. Vargas fight a week later. I think Arum is missing the point entirely. If the fans are not interested in paying to see 84-year-old Arum’s match-ups involving Pacquiao or even his other fighters, then they’re telling him that he needs to start putting together fights that are worth purchasing. You can’t expect boxing fans to get excited at paying to see Pacquiao fight a guy that was easily beaten by Tim Bradley in 2015.
The hardcore fans still remember that fight well, and the casual fans probably don’t have a clue who Vargas is. Why would they want to pay to see the aging Pacquiao fight a guy they’ve never heard of before? It won’t matter that Arum isn’t going to have the Pacquiao vs. Vargas fight shown on regular cable a week later, because I don’t think the fans will care. If the fans aren’t purchasing Arum’s fights, then he need to be a little more adventurous by putting Pacquiao in with guys that the fans want to see him fighting like Saul Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Keith Thurman, Adrien Broner or Danny Garcia.