By Ryan Maquiñana
Manny Pacquiao’s triumphant return to the win column last Saturday over a tenacious Tim Bradley certainly pleased HBO Sports president Ken Hershman. The question now becomes whether or not the fight delivered in pay-per-view sales.
“It was a great fight to watch,” Hershman told BoxingScene.com on Wednesday night in Santa Monica, Calif. “We should have the (pay-per-view) numbers sometime next week.”
Pacquiao’s first fight with Bradley in 2012 ended with a controversial decision and a reported lukewarm figure of 890,000 buys. If Hershman was concealing his excitement (or apprehension) for the anticipated amount of buys for last weekend’s rematch, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who promoted the fight, offered a stark contrast.
“Bradley was relatively unknown as well and now Bradley is better known and he’s adjusting more to the limelight,” Arum told The Telegraph. “He’s holding his own, he’s become a personality. We’ve tapped in to wider media in various ways so I think we’re going to go over a million -- I’d say, perhaps 1.2 million.”
Editor's Note: Industry sources place the early buyrate figure at under 700,000 - which has yet to be confirmed by HBO or Top Rank.
Regarding a potential fifth showdown between Pacquiao and nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez, Hershman kept his cards close to the vest. Marquez meets underdog Mike Alvarado on May 17 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and the HBO boss wants to “get through that fight first” before he can “figure out what the next step is.”
HBO has a busy summer ahead. After Marquez-Alvarado, the network will air Carl Froch-George Groves II on May 31, Sergio Martinez-Miguel Cotto on June 7 (pay-per-view), Ruslan Provodnikov-Chris Algieri on June 14, and one more potential PPV bout sure to capture the boxing public’s imagination.
“If we can get that fight done, it would be great,” Hershman said of a likely July 19 clash between Gennady Golovkin and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on HBO Pay-Per-View.
Of course, the one topic on every boxing fan’s mind is the so-called “Cold War” between HBO and Showtime and the perceived line in the sand where on the surface, it appears that promoters have been forced to pick sides. However, Hershman declined to comment.
“I don’t want to talk about that,” he said.
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine's Ratings Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at Norcalboxing.com or follow him on [email protected].