By Keith Idec
Manny Pacquiao’s return to American pay-per-view was much more successful than his previous appearance.
Multiple sources have informed BoxingScene.com that preliminary reports from cable and satellite companies, as well as streaming sources, indicate Showtime’s four-fight Pacquiao-Broner broadcast Saturday night from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas is tracking toward 400,000 pay-per-view buys in the United States.
The final number could reach 400,000, but it might not quite get there. The final tally largely will depend on buy rates reported by smaller cable companies over the next couple months.
Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s president of sports and event programming, declined comment regarding Pacquiao-Broner buys. The premium cable network is not expected to release the final figure when it becomes available, either.
Nevertheless, based on figures reported thus far, Pacquiao-Broner out-produced Pacquiao’s prior pay-per-view fight by a significant amount. That fight, Pacquiao’s even easier points victory over Jessie Vargas in November 2016 at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, drew nearly 250,000 pay-per-view buys.
The Pacquiao-Vargas show was distributed independently by Top Rank Inc., Pacquiao’s former promoter. His win over Broner marked Pacquiao’s debut fighting for adviser Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
Pacquiao-Broner also out-performed Showtime’s Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury pay-per-view event seven weeks earlier.
The card headlined by Alabama’s Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) and England’s Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) resulted in a controversial draw December 2 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The four-fight Wilder-Fury show produced approximately 325,000 buys, which is considered a success because neither Wilder nor Fury had headlined a pay-per-view event before boxing each other.
Wilder and Fury are expected to fight in an immediate rematch at some point late in the spring.
Even if Pacquiao-Broner ultimately remains under 400,000 buys, it’ll stand as Pacquiao’s best non-Mayweather pay-per-view performance since his rematch with Timothy Bradley. That fight, required because Bradley’s split-decision defeat of Pacquiao in June 2012 was infamously suspect, attracted about 800,000 buys in April 2014.
Their third fight, a seemingly unnecessary rubber match Pacquiao also won in April 2016, produced approximately 375,000 buys.
Mayweather-Pacquiao was the most successful pay-per-view show in sports history. Their long-awaited showdown in May 2015 generated a record 4.6 million pay-per-view buys and the event earned more than $600 million in overall revenue.
Nearly four years later, the 40-year-old Pacquiao beat Broner convincingly in their 12-round, 147-pound championship match.
Pacquiao (61-7-2, 39 KOs) hurt Broner badly during the seventh and ninth rounds. A resourceful Broner (33-4-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC) survived serious trouble in each of those rounds by holding and moving, and he made it to the final bell.
Each of the three judges – Tim Cheatham (116-112), Glenn Feldman (116-112) and Dave Moretti (117-111) – scored the fight for Pacquiao by considerable distances.
Broner strangely insisted that he won the fight, despite that CompuBox credited him for landing only 50 punches, just 4.2 per round.
Pacquiao landed 62 more punches overall than Broner (112-of-568 to 50-of-295), according to CompuBox’s unofficial count. CompuBox credited Pacquiao for connecting on more power punches (82-of-197 to 39-of-180) and jabs (30-of-371 to 11-of-115) against the comparatively inactive Broner.
The 29-year-old Broner brought value to the event, however, from a marketing standpoint.
The former four-division champion is 0-2-1 in his past three fights and hasn’t won a bout since he edged Adrian Granados by split decision in their 10-rounder in February 2017 in Cincinnati, Broner’s hometown. Broner remains one of boxing’s most polarizing figures, though, and continually attracts a high level of viewership for his fights on Showtime.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.