COMMENTARY | There's no fighter in the sport who mentions respect for the fans more than Manny Pacquiao. Almost from the very moment he became a main stage star, the eight-division former world champ has talked about his burning drive to give the fans what they want. Ironically, though, the Filipino icon's pay-per-view undercards are consistently among the worst in the industry, giving fans the least amount of bang for their buck.
Pacquiao shouldn't be held accountable for his poor undercards, although one could make the argument that, as star of the show, he should have considerable power and influence over what happens on events bearing his name.
If one has to single out a culprit for the poor Pacquiao undercards, promoter Bob Arum would be the easy selection. Arum, however, is not exactly denying the inferior nature of his pay-per-view package. As a matter of fact, the aged Hall of Fame promoter doesn't appear to be even the least bit reluctant to publicly embrace the strategy of placing weak shows underneath main events.
"In theory, yes, it makes sense to say, let's go get a lot of good, interesting fights and put them on the [pay-per-view] undercard, but the truth is - and I've been doing this a long, long time - 90 percent of the people don't want to see the undercard and don't care about it," Arum recently told Yahoo's Kevin Iole.
"People are eating, talking to each other, having a drink, having fun, and they don't give a [expletive] about the undercard," Arum continued. "Even in the arena, you're lucky to get the people in there for the semi-main."
There is some truth to what Arum is saying. Most hardcore boxing fans have felt the frustration of trying to follow the PPV undercard in a party setting while most of the guests wander about, mingle, and totally ignore the show.
Yes, the casual fans are there only for the main event and, whether we care to admit it, the casual fans are the ones who drive PPV sales, but what about those who have proven themselves to be true fans of the sport and/or fighter?
The hardcore fans may make up a small portion of actual sales, but they are the ones who have proven themselves to be loyal to the product and have been solid consumers through good and bad times. Surely, these fans deserve consideration and deserve some real value for the money they are asked to spend.
Arum, kind of, sort of agrees with that as well:
"But there is a point to the argument that we should give the other 10 percent something to watch that they'll enjoy," Arum also told Iole.
Except, he doesn't appear to be willing to put his money where his mouth is.
Following an absolutely awful undercard for last November's poorly received Pacquiao-Brandon Rios PPV, Arum is pushing a supporting card for April's Pacquiao-Bradley main event that, at best, promises to be only slightly better.
On April 12, Pacquiao-Bradley's chief support will be a decent world title eliminator between Rey Beltran and Rocky Martinez. Below that, it's pure off-TV fodder with Khabib Allakhverdiev against Jessie Vargas for the WBA junior welterweight belt and Bryan Vasquez vs. Jose Felix for the interim WBA super featherweight title.
A main event supported by three ESPN Friday Night Fight-level bouts is hardly a good deal for fights fans asked to pay around sixty dollars for a night of world class boxing, even if most of those watching are only there for the main event.
What about the idea of exposing new fans to great match-ups and entertaining fighters so that they don't feel the urge to wander away from the TV? Has anyone considered the fact that casual fans may pay little attention to anything other than the main event because they've come to expect awful and dull undercards in this sport?
And what about the real die-hard fans? Would it be so bad to throw them a bone with at least one other main event-level fight on the card? Like Golden Boy did with Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse on the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez undercard, would it have broken Top Rank to put Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Brian Vera on the upcoming April 12 show or maybe Nonito Donaire in a competitive bout?
We know that boxing is ultimately a business, but that doesn't give promoters carte blanche to milk every last cent from us for a product we all know to be inferior.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and is the author of Notes from the Boxing Underground. 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.
Source: Yahoo Sports
- Sports & Recreation
- Manny Pacquiao