by Charles Jay
Sure, there is no question that Manny Pacquiao will be hitting it big this weekend, whether he wins or loses.
HOW big is another question.
Photo: Chris Farina/ Top Rank
As far as the contract itself is concerned, Pacquiao is slated to get slightly less than $8.6 million, but anybody who is familiar with the business of boxing and the pay-per-view aspect of it understands that there is much more money that can possibly be had. Some published reports indicated that he could make more than $30 million, but it is difficult to get an exact handle on that kind of information unless you’re part of one of the camps. In Pacquiao-Marquez III, he was given a $6 million contract and a $22 million guarantee, and may have made about a third more than that. Here, he is guaranteed $26 million, which means that if there isn’t enough money generated to pay that, and everyone else at the same time, someone takes a bath – Top Rank in this case.
Pacquiao’s promotion company comes in for a percentage of anything that is sold to PPV subscribers, and obviously the more subscribers he is able to attract, the more money he will make. That is the big chunk. He could certainly be in on something in the way of merchandising income; there is some increased action in the closed circuit venues, and then there is foreign television to consider, although that will pale in comparison to what he can make if the fight becomes phenomenally successful.
The curiosity involves how many subscribers he’ll wind up doing. The third fight between him and Marquez (i.e., the last one) drew 1.4 million subscribers, which was the highest number Pacquiao has ever done. No doubt the fact that Marquez is a Mexican, and a popular one at that, was a factor, because everyone knows that Latin audiences are loyal when it comes to pay-per-view.
The big question here is whether this fight will draw more interest than the last one. These extended rivalries are difficult to gauge, especially when one of the combatants hasn’t won any of the first three fights. That is something we haven’t really seen in a while, at least in something that is a high-profile situation (Beau Jack fought Ike Williams four times and went 0-3-1, and Jack Britton and Ted Kid Lewis fought each other a million times, and uh, no PPV involved).
No matter what the promoters want to forecast, they aren’t going to get a real handle on what their PPV numbers are going to be until after the fight is over, because a pay-per-view fight is the ultimate impulse buy. Although you might generate something in the way of a discount, you don’t have to go to the window early in order to get a good seat. And people wait until the evening much of the time.
So there is a certain amount of mystery attached to the final tallies. Of course, the fight is not going to bomb, because there is a built-in audience for it, and there is no worries that it will draw Timothy Bradley-like numbers (only 700,000 for the fight with Pacquiao). But by the same token there are subtleties that are going to affect the exact figures. Naturally, there is a “casual” fan that has to be enticed for the PPV shows to really take off, and whether many of them are tired of seeing Pacquiao against Marquez is something that is up in the air.
One thing that helps is the fact that there was controversy surrounding the last meeting; indeed there has been at least some degree of controversy surrounding ALL of the fights between them. And there is something to be said for the fact that there is a meshing of styles that is successful from an aesthetic standpoint.
The elephant in the room involves the matter of Pacquiao not being able to come together with Floyd Mayweather on a deal that will produce the biggest payday of his career, and the second biggest payday of ANYONE’s career (which would only assume that Mayweather might get more). Certainly no one lays most of the blame at Pacquiao’s feet, but there may be a frustration factor, because let’s face it – one of the reasons we are seeing the fourth chapter in this Pacquiao-Marquez rivalry is precisely because nothing has ever materialized with Mayweather. Some people reading this, who are far from “casual,” may not understand it, but for a lot of the general public, that is the only fight they really want to see.
There is also something of a “disgust” factor among the most casual fans, and this is something that not only can’t be blamed on Pacquiao but actually victimized him. It involves the robbery he suffered against Bradley, which, for many people, brought about a very dark day for boxing and sports in general. Some people will simply not go back and spend their money, because they feel they can’t trust the result to go the way of justice.
Of course, either Pacquiao or Marquez can administer their own justice in this bout, but after 36 rounds of combat, an early ending may not be in the offing.