Pacquiao And HBO Part Ways…At Least For Now
By: Sean Crose
No one was particularly surprised when Manny Pacquiao announced his “comeback” into the world of professional boxing after a mere number of months away from the ring (for the record, the guy only fights twice a year as it is). What may surprise people, however, is the fact that HBO, long allied with Pacquiao and promoter Bob Arum, won’t be the pay per view home for the Filipino legend’s November 5th battle against WBO welterweight titlist Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas. Sure enough, it’s open as to where the fight will land as far as a broadcast home goes. Arum, however, reportedly suggested that Showtime, of even ESPN would carry the PPV.
The truth is that, amazing though he is, Manny Pacquiao has fought and lost to his greatest opponent. What’s more, his much hyped – and insanely expensive – bout against Floyd Mayweather back in May of 2015 may have disappointed a lot of fans and casual viewers alike. It wasn’t Hagler-Hearns, after all. Indeed, it wasn’t Pacquiao-Marquez. It was, in the minds of a lot of people, it seems, a clunker. And now Pacquiao has to pay the piper with a distinctly diminished lack of PPV clout. Pacquiao’s choice of opponent this fall also isn’t exactly causing fans to salivate.
While the 27-1 Vargas is a talented and courageous fighter, it’s worth noting that Tim Bradley beat the man pretty convincingly (aside from an eleventh hour knockdown) in the summer of 2015. That’s the same Tim Bradley who Pacquiao has now bested on numerous occasions. What’s more, Pacquaio could have conceivably (“conceivably” being the operative word here) faced the highly skilled rising star Terrence Crawford in November instead of Vargas. This has led some to feel that the 58-6-2, multi-time world champion is more focused on cash than on challenging himself. In a world of Billy Joe Saunders, the likes of Pacquiao facing less than the best just isn’t likely to be received warmly.
Of course, fans may want to pause before breaking out the tissues and violins. For, should Pacquiao look devastating this fall, devastating enough for fans to want to see more, HBO would likely be interested in returning to the Manny business. This may be especially true if Crawford’s name is mentioned. Then again, word of a possible – or is it dreaded? – rematch with Mayweather in 2017 has been floating around the internet. Should that bout be made, HBO may suddenly find itself out in the cold – much like many fans did after Floyd and Manny’s first throwdown. Mayweather, after all, has been aligned with Showtime for a while. Should he decide to return for another huge payday, Manny might not have any reason to include his old network in the financial festivities.