Pacquiao-Horn brings in HUGE ratings on ESPN
By Allan Fox: Manny Pacquiao’s controversial defeat to Jeff Horn last Saturday night may prove poison for the future ratings for other big fights. The fight brought in a peak of 4.4 million viewers on free television on ESPN and ESPN Deportes with an average of 3.1 million viewers. Those were HUGE ratings for sure. It’s too bad this wasn’t PPV, because Pacquiao would have made considerably more than the $10 million that he received for the Horn fight.
Horn would have made more than the $500,000 he received. The thing is, boxing fans wouldn’t have likely paid to see a fight between Pacquiao and Horn on PPV in the U.S. It’s not the right kind of match that the fans are willing to pay to see. Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum realized that it wasn’t a PPV worthy fight, so he had the fight showed on free television on ESPN.
It was still kind of jarring to see how Pacquiao is now having been demoted to fighting on free television. It’s hard to see that as a positive. If Pacquiao doesn’t retire, it would be pity if this is his fate to wind up on free television while Floyd Mayweather Jr. continues to fight on PPV for huge money. Something is going wrong with the match-making that’s being done for Pacquiao.
Surprisingly, the numbers for the Pacquiao vs. Horn fight were lower than the ratings for Errol Spence Jr’s fight against Leonard Bundu last year on August 21, 2016 on Premier Boxing Champions on NBC. The Spence-Bundu fight brought in a rating of 4.6, bringing in an incredible 6 million viewers that saw the fight. Like last Saturday’s Pacquiao-Horn fight, it was on free television. The difference was there was a far better outcome with Spence vs. Bundu, as Spence knocked Bundu out in the 6th. Spence’s big numbers reflects a television audience that was interesting in seeing a young star in Spence, who is seen by some in the boxing world as the replacement for Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Through no fault of his own, Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) found himself on the losing end of a HIGHLY debatable/controversial 12 round unanimous decision to unbeaten #1 WBO Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs) in a fight televised by ESPN last Saturday on July 1 at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.
Hopefully the outcome of the Pacquiao-Horn fight doesn’t cause a backlash from boxing fans with them showing less of a desire to watch other events in the sport. Pacquiao was involved in the ‘Fight of the Century’ against Mayweather in 2015, a fight which some believe caused boxing fans to stop punching PPV fights in high numbers due to them being angry at the lack of excitement for the fight.
ESPN is going to be showing more boxing beginning next month in between Vasyl Lomachenko and Miguel Marriaga in August, as well as Terence Crawford and Julius Indongo. If the fans are upset about the results of the Pacquiao vs. Horn fight, then they might not be willing to waste their time watching those fights. What people don’t realize is boxing fans can be turned off from the sport after watching controversial endings where the judges get things wrong. It doesn’t matter that the public didn’t have to pay to see the Pacquiao and Horn fight.
The fans could have been turned off by the fight just the same. If the results left a bad taste in the fans’ mouth, then they could be less inclined to see other boxing events. Look what happened with the Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward fight last year in September. The result of that fight was controversial with Ward winning a 12 round decision on HBO PPV. When Ward and Kovalev met for a rematch on HBO PPV on June 17 this year, fewer boxing fans purchased the fight on PPV. You can argue the drop off in PPV buys was because of the impact from the first Ward-Kovalev fight, which angered many of the boxing fans.
Top Rank, the promoter for Pacquiao and Horn, will get another chance next month to see if their Lomachenko-Marriaga and Crawford-Indongo can bring in big ratings too. I don’t think they will. None of these guys have the popularity that Pacquiao has going for him. Further, if the boxing fans are still angry at the Pacquiao vs. Horn results, then that could hurt the ratings for those two fights even more.
“There will always be a backlash where people say I got lucky, or whatever,” said Horn to ESPN.com. ”There will always be the naysayers saying I didn’t win the fight, but I felt like I won the fight. Everyone has a right to their opinion. I’m sure I’ve [gained] a lot more fans over there than I’ve lost.”
Horn has got it wrong. There wouldn’t have been a backlash to the decision for the Horn fight if it didn’t look like he’d lost the fight. If Horn had fought better and impressed instead of roughing Pacquiao up for 12 rounds, then there wouldn’t be complaints of robbery. Fans don’t complain when they’re satisfied with the results of the fights. Horn thinks he gained more fans in the U.S than he lost. I don’t know if that’s true.
I think it’s one of those things where you can’t really say for sure. The fans in the U.S like to see knockouts, not controversial decisions. The fans aren’t impressed by fighters that are almost knocked out in the 9th round like Horn was last Saturday. The fans in the U.S aren’t impressed by fighters that foul and maul their opponents by using dirty tactics. The fans like to see guys like Gennady Golovkin. He’s all business inside the ring. Golovkin goes for knockouts right away. Before his last fight against Danny Jacobs, which had a somewhat controversial ending, Golovkin had knocked out 23 straight opponents over a 9-year period from 2008 to 2017. That’s how you fans in the States. You don’t win fans fighting the way Horn did against Pacquiao. Horn had a huge weight advantage over Pacquiao.
I still don’t know how Horn is able to make 147, because he looked like a rehydrated middleweight in the 168 pound range. Golovkin rehydrates to 170, and he fights at middleweight. Horn looked about the same weight as Golovkin last Saturday. The weight advantage that Horn had against Pacquiao was a big positive. If the two fighters weighed the same last Saturday, I don’t think Horn could have roughed Pacquiao up the way he did.
It doesn’t matter what Horn thinks. Horn can think he won the fight all he wants, but it’s the boxing fans that viewed the fight as a loss for him. The important thing is the three judges gave Horn the win. Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum isn’t complaining about the outcome of the fight. Of course, Arum co-promotes Horn. It’s not a bad thing that Horn won, because it now means Arum can match them up in a second fight if Pacquiao doesn’t retire. Arum doesn’t have to look to put Pacquiao with someone else. Now Arum has an excuse to make another fight between his 2 fighters Horn and Pacquiao. If Pacquiao had won, Arum was going to put him in with another one of his fighters Konstantin Ponomarev next. There would have likely been a lot less money for Pacquiao in that fight than in a rematch with Horn.
”Manny Pacquiao is an absolute warrior, a legend of the sport,” said Horn. ”He might have come underdone in this fight, I don’t know. I guess if we have a rematch and he put his all in, he might come in better, I don’t know.”
I don’t think Pacquiao was “underdone” in the fight preparation for Horn. It looked more like Pacquiao got his fight tactics wrong. He didn’t seem to realize that the best way to beat Horn was to throw a lot of punches. When Pacquiao finally got it right in throwing a lot of shots in the 9th, he had Horn teetering on the brink of being stopped. Pacquiao didn’t continue to fire off a lot of shots in the 10th through 12th rounds. He might have gotten tired from throwing so many punches in the 9th.
Pacquiao revealed that he did things wrong after the fight. He now understands that the best way for him to beat Horn is by throwing a lot of punches. If Pacquiao can do that in the rematch, then he’ll knock Horn out. If Pacquiao doesn’t have the stamina to throw a lot of punches in every round, then he’s going to find himself getting roughed up again and he might lose another controversial decision. Pacquiao will likely out-land Horn in the rematch and his accuracy will surely be belter.