COMMENTARY | Earlier this year when it was revealed that Manny Pacquiao and his team would be taking their boxing side show to Asia, full-time, it was understood that they would be doing so at the expense of their marketability in the U.S. However, it's quite possible that Team Pacquiao may be shocked at just how much of the American market they will actually end up losing because of their decision. As a matter of fact, business for the Filipino icon's next pay-per-view card could turn out to be downright pathetic for such a high-end event.
Scheduled for November 23 in Macau, China, Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios is an outstanding "must win" match-up for both fighters and a guaranteed action fight between two of boxing's best offensive stars. Still, the buy rate for this stellar bout could be shockingly low.
But the problem with selling Pacquiao-Rios will have nothing to do with the product, itself.
The fall of 2013 will likely go down as the strongest boxing season in recent memory with Pacquiao-Rios being one of the last big bouts in this amazing stretch. From mid-September to early December, a who's who of boxing's biggest names will be fighting -- from Floyd Mayweather, Canelo Alvarez, Bernard Hopkins, and Adrien Broner to Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. There are, literally, dozens of quality bouts signed with more being added all the time. What's troubling for Team Pacquiao, though, is the fact that there are already four pay-per-views planned -- and theirs is the last on the schedule.
On September 14, Golden Boy's "The One" is showing signs of being a monster seller with Mayweather-Alvarez heading a bill that also includes Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Mattyhsse.
On October 12, Pacquiao's promoter, Top Rank, will broadcast the Juan Manuel Marquez-Timothy Bradley card as a pay-per-view as well, surprising more than a few experts with the bold money grab so close to a big Pacquiao show.
Recently, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer announced that his company would be adding a November 9 event to the PPV schedule, billed by him as "a dream card of fights." The lineup is still very much at the rumor stage, but Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana is seeming quite possible as one of the co-headlining bouts.
The addition of a November 9 pay-per-view officially makes it four pay cards in the span of 10 weeks, assuming no independent show pops up between now and then, with Pacquiao's coming at the tail end and just about one month from Christmas.
Considering the timing and the aggressive sales push devoted to it, the easiest sell of the four shows will likely be Mayweather-Alvarez. After that, it's anybody's guess as to the buy rate of the three remaining events. Fans will be asked to dig deep into their pockets this fall and it remains to be seen whether the American fight fan, still struggling with a stagnant economy, can be nudged into a pugilistic buying frenzy.
In Pacquiao's case, fans will be asked to dig in just as Christmas shopping season begins. And Team Pacquiao will have to figure out how to make their sales pitch without the benefit of having their star on American soil, available to do countless public appearances and TV show drop-ins.
It could very well be the case that Pacquiao and his team are fully devoted to exploiting the rich Asian market now and consider any American dollar they get as pure bonus. If that's the case, then there's no problem with giving a half-effort in promoting a show buried in competition.
But if the American market is still important to Team Pacquiao, they may be in for a rude awakening when all the numbers are counted for Pacquiao-Rios. Manny has established plenty of good will with American fight fans, but it's always a mistake to take consumers for granted.
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Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
- Sports & Recreation
- Manny Pacquiao
- Brandon Rios