SAN DIEGO, April 5, 2016 – Saturday’s pay per view match up between eight division champion Manny Pacquiao and former welterweight title holder Timothy Bradley Jr. should be generating plenty of buzz in the boxing community. It’s the first major bout of 2016 with enough storylines to interest serious fans, and the Pacquiao name to interest casual fans. The undercard is especially strong, one of the best in a long time.
Instead, this fight is flying under the radar with a decided lack of enthusiasm. Ticket sales are reportedly slow at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
But there were signs of life at the traditional fighter arrival at the MGM on Tuesday, with plenty of news media and enthusiastic fans on hand. Promoter Bob Arum had to be breathing a slight sigh of relief. This has never been a concern before, so what’s the message here?
Call it the Mayweather hangover effect. In last May’s long anticipated super fight, Mayweather dominated Manny Pacquiao in a unanimous decision victory. Fans were disappointed with Pacquiao’s performance, and upset after learning Pacquiao injured his right shoulder three weeks before the bout but went forward with it anyway.
Pacquiao had the shoulder repaired, but then hurt himself in a more lasting way with bigoted remarks about the gay community. These aren’t new opinions from Pacquiao, but this time they were so blunt and public they couldn’t be denied. Pacquiao needs to repair his career inside and outside the ring against Bradley. Meanwhile, the 37-year-old Congressman from the Philippines has the usual distractions of running for higher office and shooting hoops at home.
Fortunes seem reversed this time in a good way for Timothy Bradley Jr. The “Desert Storm” has reinvigorated an already accomplished career thanks to his recent TKO performance against Brandon Rios, his first under new trainer Teddy Atlas. As improbable as the partnership appeared, it seems to be just what Bradley needed. He has a new fire and has shaken off any demons after his first two bouts with Pacquiao.
But there is no title involved here; Bradley gave up his belt to fight Pacquiao instead of his mandatory challenger Sadam Ali, who went on to lose by knockout to Jessie Vargas. Fans hoped to see Pacquiao go out in a “changing of the guard” type bout against a younger challenger like Terence Crawford.
Declarations this would be Pacquiao’s last fight have been dialed back by Arum and trainer Freddie Roach, so any motivation to see this great champion one last time in person evaporated. Whether the pay per view will be affected isn’t clear, but many fans still feel burned by the one hundred bucks they spent for the MayPac broadcast. They may just say no.
Pacquiao-Bradley I generated 890,000 pay per view buys in 2012. The rematch in 2014 dropped to 800,000. It will be difficult to get close to this number. Anything under 500,000 will be a disaster for Top Rank Promotions.
Audience or not, the fight is taking place and it could write a significant chapter in the history of both boxers and their respective trainers as well. The partnership between Freddie Roach and Manny Pacquiao is longstanding and loyal. Pacquiao “made” Roach in every sense, and it will be a bittersweet day when the partnership ends. Will it be Saturday, win or lose?
Communities Digital News will provide full Fight Week coverage including reports from ringside in Las Vegas Saturday. Bookmark this column and return to see live streams of preview programs along with our insights on the main event and undercard fights.
Start your Fight Week by watching the HBO Boxing preview “Legacy on the Line: From Bradley to Pacquiao” here.
The remainder of the week’s schedule of events and broadcasts for Pacquiao vs. Bradley III:
Tuesday, April 5
Wednesday, April 6
Thursday, April 7
Friday, April 8
Pacquiao vs. Bradley III Live Official Weigh-In, 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT
Saturday, April 9
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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