Pacquiao-Vargas UAE Bound? – Last week, the news came out that HBO was going to pass on promoter Bob Arum’s proposed Manny Pacquiao vs Jessie Vargas November 5th pay-per-view bout, likely ending a decade long relationship between the Filipino star and the cable giant.
Arum came out firing, stating that HBO had “abandoned” Pacquiao after a long relationship that made them a lot of money. It is no secret that there’s no love lost between Arum and HBO executive Peter Nelson who reportedly had the final say in spurning the Pacquiao-Vargas fight. Arum, a Harvard educated lawyer, says that he believes this action terminates HBO’s contract with Pacquiao.
For HBO, it shows that they are committed to their Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward pay-per-view for November 19th. With that fight having been in the works for over a year, perhaps it was a bit “privileged” for Top Rank to think they could just put Pacquiao out there two weeks prior. How could HBO fail to find it a conflict of interest? In the fast changing PPV market it is hard to predict an over/under for PPV sales for either fight, but even a diminished Pacquiao is likely to attract the bigger number of buyers. It means HBO deserves some credit for looking beyond the biggest immediate payday and putting a premium on developing a planned fight like Kovalev-Ward and having it come to fruition.
Read author Frank Lotierzo’s “Kovalev-Ward: A Fight You Won’t Have To Hold Your Nose When You Buy It.”
Arum seems determined to roll Pacquiao back out against Jessie Vargas on November 5th, and he will be working his considerable roladex looking to sell this fight. By sticking to the poorly received fight with Vargas as the main option for Pac-Man, Arum has been accused of avoiding harder options for Pacquiao, such as Terence Crawford. In many ways, Arum can be accused of taking the opposite tack of HBO, and that is trying to ride the Pacquiao money train for as long as he can milk it.
Pacquiao-Vargas UAE Bound?
The idea that the United Arab Emirates could host a Manny Pacquiao fight has been floating around for a few years now. Though neither Abu Dhabi or Dubai have any world class sports teams, they have become a site for elite athletes ranging from tennis, golf, and martial arts stars to soccer players to go and perform and earn big paydays. Everyone from Tiger Woods to Roger Federer have played in the Emirates and Manny Pacquiao, who has transcended his sport, is exactly the type of elite athlete the ruling family of the Emirates likes to host. What Arum is seeing the in the United States is the shrinking of Pacquiao’s name value, but in a place like the ostentatious Emirates, Pacquiao’s name still likely resonates. The UAE has supported a myriad of combat sports in recent history, including hosting UFC events and a “submission wrestling” tournament using rules developed there.
A few years back, Arum took Pacquiao to Macao, the formerly Portuguese protectorate off the coast of China where he used the Filipino star to open up doorways to a large and potentially lucrative market. Pacquiao went back to Macao for a second showing, giving the Chinese market a second look at the Pac-Man phenomenon. It also bears noting that HBO was firmly with Arum and Pacquiao as he faced Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri in Macau, and the cable giant will not be along to add to Top Rank’s earnings off Pac-Man this November.
The official information is that Pacquaio-Vargas will take place at the Thomas and Mack Center. But does HBO’s refusal to put the fight on PPV put the whole rest of the deal in jeopardy? Pacquiao is fighting for money at this point, and he will not want to hear his fight will make less money because HBO is off the table. So Arum will work the phones to Showtime and the other major players in boxing, but who is going to put up a big money offer for this fight with HBO off the table?
There are always problems when cutting a new deal and Arum, who is Jewish, has never held a fight in a Muslim country. But both parties in this case may be willing to overcome that potential stumbling block for the greater good. For Arum, turning the HBO rejection into a “win” would be a big feather in his cap, so don’t be surprised if Arum pulls off the first major boxing match in the UAE. If not, Arum may find to his distress that Pac-Man’s mass appeal has fallen off the table.
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