By Jake Donovan
The rivalry between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez may sound like old news, but the manner in which Part IV is being presented is in a league of its own.
Their third fight, which took place last November, saw their weigh-in air live on HBO, a first for the network at the time. That same pattern will hold true for this Friday’s trip to the scales, only its coverage will expand far beyond HBO.
It’s only fitting, since the promotion for this event continues to break new ground at every turn well before the fighters step into the ring Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“47 years ago when I started in boxing, if I got up in front of the esteemed members of the press and told them I could see in the future that a weigh-in could be seen all across the country and stream it – which they wouldn’t understand at the time – around the world, they would’ve considered me certifiably insane,” admits Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, who – just days away from his 81st birthday – has been around long enough to have truly seen it all.
Once upon a time, a weigh-in ceremony comprised of two fighters and their head trainers in a closet-sized room, taking turns to mount the scale as witnessed by the presiding commission. Those days changed when Muhammad Ali burst onto the scene, with the wheel constantly reinvented from that point onward.
“It is crazy to me how we’ve taken those technological advances in boxing and presented our product to the public,” states Arum.
Still, far too many promoters and networks struggle to keep up with and take advantage of today’s technology. Such is where Top Rank and HBO remain miles ahead of the curve.
“We’ve seen there is this huge behavioral shift; fans love content,” acknowledges Todd duBoef, President of Top Rank and often the brains behind many of the company’s unique ways towards presenting its product. “We went from streaming the weigh-ins to doing all of these other things. We see the appetite for greater demand.”
The latest great new idea came last Friday, when Manny Pacquiao’s workout was streamed live on a seven-story screen on the NASDAQ building in Times Square in New York City. That same location will serve as one of many media outlets to air Friday’s live weigh-in. HBO and ESPN are also in on the live coverage, along with their respective websites as well as on TopRank.com, which continues to present its press conferences and media sessions for the benefit of the fans at home unable to attend.
HBO has also picked up the pace by a considerable margin, though it took a proverbial kick in the ass from Top Rank to change its ways. From the moment Top Rank decided to take the May ’11 fight between Pacquiao and Shane Mosley across the street to Showtime, HBO realized the necessity to go way outside the box to present its product.
The coverage has since grown by leaps and bounds. This weekend’s event is not only the benefactor, but has raised the bar by a considerable margin, going so far as to get the NBA involved in promoting the event.
“TNT will be airing a special, ‘Charles and Reggie Toe To Toe with Manny Pacquiao’ following the conclusion of its NBA doubleheader Thursday night,” informed Mark Taffet of HBO PPV. The announcement of the groundbreaking series was followed by a detailed lineup of coverage to follow.
Following the conclusion of HBO’s live weigh-in special (Friday, 5:30PM ET), the network will offer a two-hour block airing all four episodes of “24/7 Pacquiao-Marquez IV”. The first three episodes will be replayed, following by the premiere of the fourth and final episode, which will include up to the minute coverage of Fight Week in Vegas.
The time spent between the weigh-in and fight night will be loaded with reminders of this weekend’s blockbuster event.
“On Saturday, we will feature HBO2 Takeover from 5PM-9PM ET, which includes the weigh-in, and all four episodes of 24/7,” revealed Taffet. “ESPN will air all four episodes of 24/7 on ESPN Classic and ESPN Deportes. Fans will be seeing up-to-the-minute programming news throughout the day. We will also be featuring “Flash Your Four” where consumers will have a chance to have their pictures shown.”
Simply put, you will have to be living under a rock to not know what is going on this weekend.
“We believe that as many will buy it – in this great country, in Puerto Rico and Canada, that everybody will be aware of this fight,” Arum says.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com Follow Jake on Twitter:@JakeNDaBox