By Lem Satterfield
The way that his adviser, Michael Koncz, sees it, eight-division king Manny Pacquiao has become a promotional juggernaut the likes of which the boxing world has not witnessed since Muhammad Ali.
Leading up to the 32-year-old's successful, May 7 unanimous decision victory over five-time titlist, Shane Mosley (46-7-1, 39 knockouts) in defense of his WBO welterweight belt, the congressman from the Philippines cut a music single called, "Sometimes When We Touch," and caused an accident between rubber-necking motorists during the moments prior to entering the White House to meet president Barack Obama.
Before stepping into the ring opposite the 39-year-old Mosley for what was his 14th straight during a run that has included eight knockouts, Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) was mobbed at a Ron Robinson/Fred Segal on Melrose store in Los Angeles as he unveiled his second cologne, "MP-8: Scent of The Champion."
Pacquiao made his fourth consecutive appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and his first on the comedy-based show Tosh.O. Then, after earning his career-high, guaranteed $20 million against Mosley, which the fighter apparently already has pocketed, Pacquiao, yet again, held a post-fight concert during which he sang once more with his own, personal band, the MP's.
During the entire time, virtually all of Pacquiao's moves were captured by the cameras of Showtime's Fight Camp 360, a fact which Koncz believed allowed Pacquiao to maximize his exposure to a level that he had never reached prior to facing Mosley before a sold out crowd of 16,410 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
Koncz reiterated the major advantage presented by Showtime's ability to televise the multi-part series, Fight Camp 360, that was the equivalent to HBO's 24/7 -- on CBS, as well as the ability for CBS to reach 115 million homes compared to HBO's 28 million homes.
On Wednesday, Pacquiao's promoter, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, received the signature of 37-year-old WBA and WBO lightweight king Juan Manuel Marquez (52-5-1, 38 KOs) accepting a third with Pacquiao, and was to meet with Koncz over dinner later in the evening in an attempt to finalize the details.
In May of 2004, and, again in March of 2008, Marquez battled through a draw, and, a split-decision loss, respectively, against Pacquiao, this, despite Marquez' being floored three times in the first round of their initial clash, and, once more, in their second.
The first bout was contested for the WBA and IBF featherweight belts, and the second, for the WBC super featherweight crown. In the third fight, Pacquiao, who turns 33 in December, and Marquez, who turns 38 in August, are expected to face off at a catch-weight of 144-pounds on Nov. 12 at the MGM Grand.
This time, Marquez stands to receive a guaranteed of $5 million plus $5 per home after 850,000 pay-per-view buys, and, in vicgtory, being guaranteed $10 million dollars for a fourth fight.
If everything is finalized, which Arum believes is a formality, the promoter said that Pacquiao-Marquez III will be televised on pay-per-view either on Showtime or HBO. After speaking with Arum, Koncz told BoxingScene.com that he will leave Los Angeles and fly over to the Philippines to review the the details with Pacquiao, most notably, his purse.
In this Q&A, Koncz spoke to BoxingScene.com about the decision by Pacquiao and Arum to make their first-ever move to Showtime, this, after having fought all of his major bouts on network cable rival HBO. Koncz also discussed Pacquiao's forever growing popularity as well as the notion that a trilogy with Marquez may not only be Pacquiao's most difficult, but also, his most lucrative.
BoxingScene.com: Big decision about whether or not to return to HBO or to give Showtime another try?
Michael Koncz: We've never had any problem with HBO. They've always treated us well. The last fight, however, we made a business decision, and that was to go and do Showtime with their parent company, CBS.
That broadened Manny's audience popularity outside of the boxing community and the hardcore boxing fans and the sports fans. It was refreshing to work with Showtime, and I think that our work together's been a success.
Hopefully, we can do it in the future. However, we will continue to look at all aspects of both situations and what's most beneficial for Top Rank and Manny's MP Promotions.
More importantly, what's most beneficial for in terms of income generating ideas for Manny. So now, it's a new fight, and that's coming up in November. So I think that we need to see proposals from both sides -- Showtime and HBO -- and then, we'll decide at that point where we're going to go.
BoxingScene.com: What did you find successful about the move to Showtime?
MK: What I expected was to penetrate some of their non-terrestrial television 115 million member audience, and I think that we did that. We did that again by going on the 'Jimmy Kimmel' show. We did that by, again, going on with the comedian, Tosh, an act that came to the gym and worked with us.
We've gotten a lot of great reviews out of that. People saw Manny on that, even though it was a quickly made skit. There were two shows. I think that those were successful. So I think that we did penetrate the mainstream audience outside of the boxing fans.
That's what we wanted to do, that's what we expected to do, and that's what we accomplished.
BoxingScene.com: What are the chances of returning to HBO?
MK: To be honest with you, I think that HBO is limited because they're limited to their cable subscribers where Showtime has the advantage of using its parent company CBS on network television. But HBO, they're limited. I'm curious about that.
They're limited as to their relative exposure capabilities. We're talking about exposure, now. We're not talking about experience and expertise. I'm talking about exposure. And I think that Showtime has one of those key elements in crossing Manny over to the rock star status, and that's exposure.
With that exposure, then, you know, the money for the purse will follow. So the money is not the primary area of concentration, but it's the exposure that is important.
BoxingScene.com: Is your assessment that Manny's exposure was at a high for this last fight with Shane Mosley despite the fact that many in the boxing media believed, from the start, that it was a bad choice to fight Shaen Mosley?
MK: The media may have ripped the fight, but I don't think that the fans ripped the fight. But again, it's unfortunate that Manny is as great as he is. Because it doesn't matter who we fight, we make them look bad. So it's not necessarily the fault of the other fighter, and it's not the fault of Manny Pacquiao.
It's just that it's because of Manny's extraordinary abilities that we make everybody look bad, and then, we get criticized for it.
BoxingScene.com: Okay, so you feel as if you're getting criticized, but that hasn't stopped you from all-but signing for the third Juan Manuel Lopez fight, which already has received some negative publicity, right?
MK: The media ripped the Joshua Clottey fight, they ripped the Antonio Margarito fight, and they rippedd the Shane Mosley fight, but none of that has seemed to matter to the boxing fans.
BoxingSCene.com: So is your feeling that Manny Pacquiao has reached the level where the general fans are simply watching him as the main attraction beyond boxing in conjunction with his ring skills, and not so much for the opponents he is choosing to fight?
MK: Yes. Now, we just need to continue to capitalize on it. Now, we know that you still have your hard core boxing fans, but now, others outside of the sport's hard core fans are tuning in.
That's again, what I'm talking about is that the move to CBS and Showtime has expanded the viewing audience. So now that that has been started, and the door is now opened, we need to continue that.
So if each fight, we can pick up a hundred thousand more or two hundred thousand or more non-traditional boxing fans, we're doing something that no other boxer is doing in this era right now. I don't think that it's just his boxing, but it's Manny's entire story line.
BoxingScene.com: You mean the one about rags to riches, and, poverty to politics?
MK: Yes, I mean, he's gone from living an impoverished life to having the riches. But not only that, it's his charitable work and his political work. So all of that makes him a special person. I mean, Muhammad Ali didn't become popular to the sports fans simply because of his boxing.
But he also became popular because of the stand that he took on his beliefs. When Muhammad Ali decided not to go to Viet Nam, he instead gave up everything for his beliefs. Boxing had something to do with it, but the main reason Ali became so popular and a worldwide fixture was because of his beliefs.
It's what Muhammad Ali did and didn't do outside of the ring, along with what he did inside of the ring. That's similar to what's appealing about Manny to the curiousity of the every day person on the street.
That's exactly what we're trying to do is what Muhammad Ali did. Boxing has, I mean, we know that we've got the sports fans. But that's not good enough. We need to continue to expand to the non-sports fans.
BoxingScene.com: What do you expect to hear from the meeting tonight with Bob Arum regarding the signature of Juan Manuel Marquez?
MK: I don't know what I can tell you about that except that Bob Arum and I will discuss numbers and stuff like that. But I still have to take it to the Philippines and get Manny's approval, and that won't happen until next week.