By Jake Donovan
As long as Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather do not face each other in the ring, their careers will remain comparable through individual performances as well as at the box office.
The two biggest draws in the sport are also the top two rated fighters in pound-for-pound rankings among nearly every respectable publication. Pacquiao held the lead while Mayweather remained inactive, though many felt that the Filipino icon’s struggling performance in his third fight with Juan Manuel Marquez last November was enough to shake things up at the top.
Mayweather built on his lead with a strong showing against Miguel Cotto earlier this month, a fight that pulled in 1.5 million pay-per-view buys for gross receipts in the vicinity of $90 million. The event exceeded Pacquiao’s own bout with Cotto in Nov. ’09, which sold 1.25 million units.
With Mayweather reclaiming his lead at the box office, all eyes are now on the return receipts for Pacquiao’s upcoming June 9 showdown with Tim Bradley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pacquaio is generally the bigger draw at the gate, as his fights routinely sell out or come very close. Mayweather’s past four fights since returning in ’09 have sold well but didn’t quite hit capacity.
Top Rank isn’t particularly concerned about Pacquiao’s ability to outdraw Mayweather or anyone else in the sport. Should his fight with Bradley draw more than one million pay-per-view buys, Pacquiao will match Mayweather as the only two fighters in boxing history to crack that figure in four consecutive fights.
At the end of the day, Top Rank’s chief concern is Pacquiao proving he’s still a huge draw. The need to compare him to any other fighter is nonexistent.
“We aim to get the biggest possible numbers we can get,” states Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. “But we operate from a completely different model from Floyd’s model. Whatever numbers he allegedy reached or didn’t reach is irrelevant to us. It varies from fight to fight.
“The numbers that Manny had when he fought Marquez in November are certainly greater the numbers Floyd had when he fought Victor Ortiz.”
The biggest marketing question surrounding June 9 is how man buys Pacquiao can pull in without an A-list attraction on the other side of the equation. His March ’10 with Joshua Clottey registered 700,000 buys, his lowest title among his past seven fights.
The same question has been asked of Mayweather in the past, though last year’s fight with Victor Ortiz proved his worth. It can be argued that a supporting cast of Saul Alvarez and Erik Morales greatly added to the final numbers, as is the argument that Mayweather’s last fight had a huge financial boost on the B-side of the marquee.
“You also have to remember that Mayweather fought one of our great fighters, Miguel Cotto,” Arum points out, having promoted Cotto from his pro debut all the way through last December’s rematch win over Antonio Margarito. “He is the number three gate attraction (and) has got great numbers on his own. So you have to factor all of that in.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]m