HBO PPV will distribute a March 13 pay-per-view fight featuring boxing's pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao, but it's not the fight the industry was hoping for.
Pacquiao will fight former welterweight champion Joshua Clottey at the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas after negotiations for a blockbuster March 13 Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. bout broke down earlier this month.
Industry executives projected that the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight had the potential to best the record 2.4 million PPV buys generated by the May 2007 Oscar De La Hoya-Mayweather fight. Instead Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum, speaking during a New York press conference Wedesday to promote Pacquiao-Clottey, expects the replacement fight to break the 1 million PPV buy mark.
Arum added that the controversy over drug testing that derailed the Pacquiao-Mayweather bout - Pacquiao refused a demand by the Mayweather camp to submit to random drug testing of the fighters leading up to and after the fight -- would actually help boost the performance of Pacquiao-Clottey.
HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg also believes that the Mayweather-Pacquiao controversy could drive PPV buys for Pacquiao-Clottey.
"I think probably in a weird way all of this attention over the last month will help both fighters," he said. "Other than Tiger Woods no one else has knocked them out in terms of press coverage."
Greenburg said the Pacquiao-Clottey fight will be the first of as many as four PPV boxing events HBO will distribute in 2010. The pay TV network distributed three PPV boxing events in 2009.
The second PPV event could be a May 1 matchup between Mayweather and former welterweight champion Shane Mosley. Mosley was scheduled to fight Andre Berto on HBO Jan. 30, but the Haitian-American Berto, who lost eight family members in the recent Haiti earthquake, withdrew from the fight Monday.
Greenburg is also optimistic that a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight can still be made in 2010.
"I would argue that we had the perfect balance of big HBO fights and PPV events in 2009 --that's what I like to see in 2010," he said. "Manny's fight will spark interest, certainly a potential Mayweather-Mosely fight will spark interest, and hopefully, God willing, a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will blow the doors off."
R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.
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