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Pacquiao-Vargas competing with Kovalev-Ward for PPV buys


By Chris Williams: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum will have his fight between his stable fighters Manny Pacquiao and Jessie Vargas competing on November 5 in the same month as the arguably much compelling fight between light heavyweights Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward on November 19 on HBO pay-per-view. With these two separate cards taking place in the same month, it means that boxing fans will be need to make a decision which of the two that they’ll be purchasing.

With the HUGE costs of cable in the United States, it’s asking a lot of the boxing public to purchase two pay-per-view cards in the same month in November. By having two PPV cards in the same month, it doubles the monthly bill of the average cable bill from $103, according to Fortune, to over $200. That’s a lot of money for many fans of the sport, which is why one of the two PPV fights will suffer.

Fortunately for Arum, his match-up between WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas and Pacquiao will be taking place first on November 5 on Top Rank PPV. This means that there’s a good chance that many fans of the sport will purchase the Pacquiao-Vargas fight despite it being a less than interesting fight in the eyes of many boxing fans than the Kovalev-Ward fight, which will be taking place later on in November on the 19th.

Arum attempted to shop the Pacquiao-Vargas fight on HBO for November, but they chose not to televise it. They already had the Kovalev vs. Ward fight for November, and they didn’t have the budget for a second PPV fight between Pacquiao and Vargas.

With the Kovalev vs. Ward fight taking place in the same month, Arum doesn’t see it having any impact on the Pacquiao-Vargas fight. It’s unclear why Arum doesn’t see it potentially hurting the PPV sales, because common sense suggests that it will. The pay-per-view prices are sky high, and when you combine two PPV events in one month, it greatly increases the cable bills for fans.

“It has no impact on our event, none,” Arum said to about the Kovalev vs. Ward PPV event taking place in the same month as his own. “Our audience is virtually completely different. Our event is a strong event from top to bottom (with four world title bouts) and I wish Kathy all the luck in the world.”

I disagree with Arum the two PPV events not clashing each other. The audiences are NOT completely different. There will be many hardcore boxing fans that would potentially want to buy both PPV cards if they were staged in different months instead of the same month. But with both fight cards taking place in November, fans will need to make a decision which of the two to purchase.

I think Arum is kidding himself if he believes that having a strong undercard for his Pacquiao-Vargas card will lead to a lot of fans choosing to purchase his card. I don’t think fans purchase cards due to undercards. They choose them for the main event, which in this case is an arguably lackluster one between Pacquiao and Vargas. It’s not a great fight. Vargas isn’t a PPV level fighter, he’s not unbeaten, and he recently lost to Tim Bradley. Pacquiao just beat Tim Bradley. If you do the math, Pacquiao-Vargas is a mismatch and not a compelling fight.

Arum has added the following undercard fights to the Pacquiao-Vargas card:

Nonito Donaire vs. Jessie Magdaleno

Oscar Valdez vs. Hiroshige Osawa

Shiming Zou vs. Prasitsak Papoem

Those are not good fights in my opinion. I think Valdez and Donaire are good fighters, but they’re facing weak opposition. I don’t see Shiming as a PPV draw in the U.S, so having him on the card is meaningless to U.S fans. If Arum wants to attract fans to purchase the card, he should have matched Donaire against Oscar Valdez, or better yet put either of those guys in against Vasyl Lomachenko. Now that would be interesting. But even if Arum did that, I don’t think it would attract boxing fans to purchase the Pacquiao-Vargas fight card, because the main event is a mismatch. Vargas has Tim Bradley problems. He still needs to go back and prove that he can beat Bradley before advancing to a guy like Pacquiao. It doesn’t make sense for Vargas to be fighting Pacquiao after losing 11 of 12 rounds to Bradley.

“Why are we going Nov. 5? It’s simple. That’s the only day I could free Pacquiao up from the senate,” said Arum.

I still think Arum should have picked a month where there weren’t any other PPV events for his Pacquiao vs. Vargas fight. We’re already seeing Pacquiao’s PPV numbers dropping since his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year in May 2015. Arum put Pacquiao back in with Bradley last April in a third fight between them, and the fight brought in only 400,000 buys. I’m surprised the fight did that many buys, because fans weren’t demanding a third fight between them. It was a strange idea for Arum to match Pacquiao with Bradley for a third time, because the two fighters had always fought each other twice before, and Pacquiao clearly established that he was the better fighter of the two.

What Arum needed was NEW blood instead of an old blood for Pacquiao. This means that Arum should have gone outside of his Top Rank stable to match Pacquiao against Saul Canelo Alvarez, Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia or Amir Khan. My guess is Arum could have gotten at least one of those guys for Pacquiao to fight, and he PPV results likely would have been much, much higher than the ones that Pacquiao got for his tired third fight against Bradley.

It’s too bad that the fans will need to choose between the Pacquiao-Vargas and Kovalev-Ward fights for November on PPV, but I think the Pacquiao is going to be the one that loses out in this equation. There are a great number of fans that want to see Kovalev and Ward fight each other. Why? Because it’s a 50-50 fight where fans don’t know who will win. Those types of fights always sell on PPV. In contrast, Pacquiao-Vargas is a mismatch on paper involving a fighter that was recently beaten by Bradley.

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