Pacquiao To Face Horn On ESPN
By: Sean Crose
ESPN, the most famous sports network in America, will be playing host to the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn welterweight title bout on July 1st, according to the network’s own top boxing writer, Dan Rafael. The fight, which will go down in front of a huge live crowd in Australia, will headline a card that begins 9 PM, Eastern Standard Time in the US. “It will be,” Rafael writes, “the first time that a Pacquiao fight will air live on basic cable and is his first non-pay-per-view fight since he knocked out Hector Velazquez on HBO in September 2005.”
This is big news for fight fans, as a star as big as Pacquiao hasn’t fought on basic television in ages. The question fans may now ask is whether or not Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, is looking to do what PBC mastermind Al Haymon was said to be trying to accomplish a few years ago – bring high level boxing back to regular television. According to Ring Magazine’s Mike Coppinger, Arum’s Top Rank Promotions will be behind a series of fights to land on the network. Whether this means stars such as Bud Crawford and Tim Bradley will appear in major bouts on basic cable remains to be seen.
With pay cable network HBO appearing to have cooled way down on boxing in the past several months, many suspected Arum (having long done business with the network) had something up his sleeve. In fact, the man himself was open about this. The announcement of Pacquiao- Horn on ESPN, then, shouldn’t be all that great a surprise. There’s little chance, after all, that the bout would have done well on pay per view. Virtually no one in America knows who Horn is. What’s more, Pacquiao is no longer the pay per view star he once was after losing his mega bout with Floyd Mayweather.
It will be interesting to see how the general public reacts to this. The fight will be aired on the Fourth of July weekend, which means many will have things other than major sporting events on their minds. It’s also worth noting that Pacquiao-Horn isn’t considered a super fight by any stretch of the imagination. Should Pacquiao have been facing a top opponent like Crawford, it could truly be telling how serious Arum might be about bringing boxing to the masses. There’s little doubt, however, that ESPN will promote this bout well. It’s now up to the viewers themselves to decide just how successful this card will be.