MANNY Pacquiao has found a new international network partner after Top Rank struck a deal with ESPN to air his world welterweight title defense against Jeff Horn along with the rest of the card from Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia on July 1 (July 2, Manila time) live in the US on the cable channel.
The deal was announced in a report by ESPN’s Dan Rafael published on Sunday (Monday, Manila time).
This will be Pacquiao’s first non-pay-per-view fight since 2005 that will air live on the sports cable channel, as well as on ESPN Deportes with a livestream on the ESPN App.
“Working with Top Rank on a match normally seen on pay-per-view is a significant moment for ESPN and for boxing fans. This fight, along with ESPN's in-depth programming surrounding the fight, joins Wimbledon, Home Run Derby and the ESPYS in a stellar early July programming lineup,” said ESPN president John Skipper.
Calling the fight from ringside for ESPN are Joe Tessitore, Teddy Atlas and Timothy Bradley, Jr., who has faced Pacquiao in the ring three times.
“The world has followed amazing Manny since he burst onto the scene in his U.S. debut in 2001, where he knocked out Lehlo Ledwaba to win his second of a record eight division world titles. We are excited that ESPN will air this fight throughout the U.S. in both English and Spanish. It's going to be an unbelievable event," said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum.
ESPN already has Arum lined up to promote ‘The Battle of Brisbane’ in a number of shows on Monday, while the network’s official coverage of the fight starts on June 30 with the live SportsCenter showing of the Pacquiao-Horn weigh-in.
Top Rank welcomed the new deal as more validation of the 38-year-old Filipino boxing legend and senator’s starpower, especially as Brisbane prepares to host a record-setting mark in attendance for a boxing match in Australia with approximately over 50,000 tickets already sold.
“Manny Pacquiao has been one of the biggest global sports stars of his era, setting attendance and pay-per-view records for over the past decade. Now, as he defends his world title in front of yet another anticipated record crowd, he will be doing it to his biggest U.S. television audience on the world's biggest and most prestigious sports network, ESPN,” ," said Top Rank President Todd duBoef.
“To have ESPN, which has treated its viewers to NFL, [the] College Football Playoff and NBA playoff games, add Manny's title fight to its roster is the biggest compliment one can give to Manny's star power and a great gift to sports fans," he added.