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Azad Championship Report - Is Pacquiao-Rios a Tough Sell?

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)


On November 23rd in Macao, Manny Pacquiao faces Brandon Rios in a fight distributed by HBO Pay-Per-View. The press tour for this fight that began in Asia concluded on Thursday afternoon at the Beverly Hills Hotel. The fight is historic in one respect: its locale.
 
“We haven’t had a pay-per-view mega-fight overseas in our history. This is the first time,” said Mark Taffet, ‎Senior VP of Sports Operations and Pay-Per-View at HBO. The fight is taking place in the early morning hours locally to accommodate the Stateside audience, which will be able to view this card in prime time.
 
But what is more worrisome to those involved in the event is that the usual media swarm that would converge in Las Vegas and pound out stories all week long in the media center may not make the trek to Macao. There was a time when big fights took place all over the world (think about the “Thrilla in Manila” between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in the Philippines) but that was in an era when the biggest papers had no problems sending their fight scribes for weeks at a time to cover these events.

Bob Arum has announced a special media rate of $1,500 that will include round-trip airfare and a hotel room during fight week. The veteran promoter said the feedback to this offer was “overwhelming. We’re going to have to weed out because we can’t take everybody. We’re not going to have enough seats, so I would think when we get to around 80, we’re going to cut it off.”
 
This event is still taking place halfway across the world and there are still some logistical hurdles that have to be cleared.
 
“Well, we’ll be on at the same time that our fans in the U.S. are used to watching the big pay-per-view fights and what we will be doing is bringing China into the living rooms across America through a lot of publicity, video promotion and satellite interviews,” explained Taffet. “So our goal is to have the fans at home in the United States feel the fight with the same electricity they normally would and we believe that with today’s media and the immediacy of things that we can accomplish that and make it a great experience.”
 
Arum says, judging by the reaction of this press tour, his concerns have been assuaged.
 
“This is what I hoped would happen and in dealing with the Venetian [Resort]. I have a really good partner, guys who understand. The difficulty would be some people who are ignorant of the sport, how it works,” said the chairman of Top Rank, who has staged two prior events in Macao featuring Zou Shiming, who will be on this undercard in November. “But the people who run things at the Venetian are all Americans and they know how important it is to do these things.”
 
When asked if he felt this fight could go north of 750,000 pay-per-view purchases, Arum replied, “Yeah, I think with the curiosity and everything that it could end up doing more than if the fight was in the United States.”
 
HBO
 
Top Rank is still having discussions with HBO about a few dates but this much is clear: on November 9th, a doubleheader with Mikey Garcia (who could be challenging WBO 130-pound beltholder Rocky Martinez) and Nonito Donaire (in what could be a rematch versus Vic Darchinyan) is on the calendar.
 
As for where it will take place, Arum says, “We’re waiting for the hockey schedule to be posted. We have the basketball. So we have a couple of buildings in Texas on hold but we have to see where the hockey is going to be.”
 
As for Guillermo Rigondeaux, who may or may not be exiled by the network, Arum states, “We’re getting a lot of feedback on them. We’re working hard; we’re going to get another date and hopefully, we’ll be able to put ‘Rigo’ on one of those cards.”
 
SPORTS ON EARTH
 
Here’s my latest for SportsOnEarth.com on how the Time Warner Cable-Showtime dispute could affect pay-per-view buys for Saul Alvarez-Floyd Mayweather:
 
 
WEEKEND FLURRIES
 
 
Felix Verdejo is on this week’s edition of “Solo Boxeo” from Puerto Rico...Do people still pay money to watch Hector Camacho Jr. fight?...They served Chinese food at the Pacquiao-Rios press conference. It was good but where was the orange chicken?...“Football on your Phone” by the Manning brothers is better than most of the stuff I hear on the radio...

I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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