The impossible sell?
On Tuesday afternoon at the posh Beverly Hills Hotel, a press conference was held to formally kick off the promotion for the third go-round between Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley. When you gauge the interest of Pacquiao-Bradley III on social media platforms such as Twitter, (which, in all fairness, isn’t exactly the Gallup Poll) you sense a great amount of apathy and disinterest from the public.
With all that said, veteran promoter Bob Arum is predictably optimistic about how well this event will resonate with the public.
“It’s not a tough sell at all.” Arum would claim to UCNLive.com. “You always try to get as many people buying it as you can and you know we did over 800,000 (buys) for Bradley’s fights with Manny, one almost over 900,000 and we’re going to do the same for this fight, maybe higher.”
But the reality is there really was no clamoring for a third bout. While other new names (who had never faced the “Pac-Man”) were thrown around, the decision was made to once again face Bradley. Arum states, “I don’t believe it’s a third chapter. I believe it’s a different Tim Bradley. So for me, it’s like a different fighter. (Bradley’s trainer) Teddy Atlas adds a lot to the mix.”
Well, that’s the other thing; this can’t really be considered a true rubber match, given the overwhelming majority of observers believed Pacquiao won both fights (even though Atlas is engaging in some revisionist history by stating he believes the first encounter was a draw, even though, in the immediate aftermath of that initial encounter, during commentary on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights,” he clearly stated Pacquiao won that fight handily).
Eventually, this decision to face Bradley, again, came down to familiarity.
“The problem was that the (cable) distributors didn’t believe (Terence) Crawford was known well enough and they hardly knew who (Amir) Khan was,” said Arum.
Not helping matters is the negative reaction to the “super-non-fight” between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. last May 2. To this, Arum admits, “It certainly didn’t help; it wasn’t a very exciting fight. So you would’ve preferred a much more exciting fight leading into this but people want to see Manny, want to see Bradley. They want to see the people on the undercard. I think we’re going to do really well.”
(Speaking of the undercard, to its credit, Top Rank didn’t trot out a Butterbean/Mia St. John-esque bill for this event, instead putting on solid fare like the WBO super middleweight title tilt between Arthur Abraham and Gilberto Ramirez and the featherweight tussle between Oscar Valdez and Evgeny Gradovich. By all standards, this is a solid undercard.)
Part of the negative reaction to Mayweather-Pacquiao has to do with how it affected the pay-per-view business moving forward. Customer dissatisfaction was at an all-time high following that $100-plus event, which over-sold and under-delivered. “I don’t see where the pay-per-view business really slumped,” stated Arum, who points out, “People didn’t buy Mayweather-(Andre) Berto because there was no promotion for that fight – none. Nobody did anything; there was no press conference. You can’t just announce a fight and expect people to buy it. You can’t do that. And then you had (Gennady) Golovkin-(David) Lemieux and that shouldn’t have been on pay-per-view. And then there was ‘Canelo’ (Saul Alvarez) with (Miguel) Cotto and that did extraordinarily well. So I can’t see any slump.”
One thing Arum refuses to do is to market this as Pacquiao’s last fight. “I think, if you asked him now, he’d say he’s going to retire. But I don’t believe it.”
Really? Why not?
“Because he’s a fighter,” was Arum’s retort.
And good luck.
STATE OF THE ARUM
Arum, who dropped a few political digs during this press conference (and it’s clear he’s endorsing Hillary Clinton), was asked about the current state of the boxing business.
“I don’t know; we just do what we have to do and I think there’s great interest among Hispanics. I think there’s interest among people, I think everyone was distracted by the (Premier Boxing Champions) but all they did was spend a lot of money and accomplished very little. I think the business looks strong going into the future,” said Arum.
So did the PBC directly affect Top Rank the past year?
“Of course it did. It tied up networks; it tied up fighters,” opined Arum. “It had a big effect on our business and it hurt our business. But I’ve seen this before; you just persevere and go with the cards that you have and you do the best you can.”
I hated to do this but I had to ask Arum about the possibility of Mayweather-Pacquiao II (and yeah – again – I can just hear all of you groaning out there).
Arum’s response was, “Well, you gotta ask Floyd and you gotta ask Manny. I mean, I’m an 84-year-old guy entering my 50th year in boxing promotions and I ain’t getting in the ring and letting anyone take a punch at me. But these guys do, so it’s it up to them.”
Here’s this week’s edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly (a full, two-hour edition).
The latest episode of “The 3 Knockdown Rule” with Mario Lopez and me.
You can also listen to it here…
…and download it here.
Karim Mayfield will replace Ray Robinson as Dmitry Mikhaylenko’s opponent in HBO’s opening bout on Jan. 30…Golden Boy Promotions announced a partnership with FilmOn TV Networks to create two new streaming services (The Ring and the Golden Boy Channel) that will air boxing for free, beginning on Jan. 29…Stephen “Breadman” Edwards says Julian Williams will face Marcello Matano in an IBF 154-pound title eliminator in March…David Lemieux will return on March 12 in Montreal versus James De La Rosa…OK, gonna give “Billions” on Showtime a shot…For some reason, Cam Newton gets under people’s skins…I want to announce that I’m boycotting the ESPYs…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.