THE comeback fight of boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao against American Brandon Rios in Macau generated a pay-per-view buys within the vicinity of 500,000, unimpressive figures that nonetheless no longer came as a surprise for Top Rank Promotions.
Promoter Bob Arum said he was aware from the very beginning that doing a first-ever HBO pay-per-view outside of the United States would be a very big gamble.
“It’s very, very difficult when you’re not doing the fight in the United States,” Arum said in an ESPN interview. “The [pay-per-view] industry told us when you do an event that far away, you can expect to do maybe 30 percent of what you would ordinarily do on the fight.”
The 12-round match that served as the comeback fight of the 34-year-old Pacquiao following his harrowing sixth round knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez last year, drew a capacity crowd of 13,101 at the Cotai Arena, most of them cheering for the Filipino boxing icon.
Unfortunately, the pay-per-view sale was not as impressive, which came close to the 400,000 buys generated by the Pacquiao-Marquez II fight when the pride of the Philippines was still on the verge of boxing superstardom.
“The numbers are coming in like we expected," said Arum. “We ran all our numbers on something a little less than 500,000 but figuring we'd do around 500,000, and that's what we're going to wind up doing. It means 490,000 or 510,000, something like that."
The figures were a letdown from the 1.15 million buys earned by Pacquiao’s last fight against Marquez.
The biggest pay-per-view sales involving Pacquiao was his 2011 fight against Sugar Shane Mosley under Showtime (1.3 million), while HBO generated a pair of 1.25 million buys in Pacquiao bouts against Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto.
But Arum is confident Pacquiao can regain his appeal among boxing fans when he makes a comeback in Las Vegas in his next fight set April 12 at the MGM Grand.
The Top Rank official said two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming will be in the undercard of the Pacquiao fight. The Chinese also saw action in the Pacquiao-Rios fight card, winning by unanimous decision over Mexican Juan Toscano in their flyweight bout set for six rounds.
“We’ll have Manny fighting back in the United States with Zou Shiming in the undercard and do a pay-per-view in China, where it will be on Sunday morning," Arum said.