Manny Pacquiao fights tend to have a particular look and feel. He likes to fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas and they’re often broadcast via HBO PPV.
Neither of those things will be the case in his upcoming bout with Jessie Vargas in November. Pacquiao is using the fight as a platform to prove that he’s still worthy of a rematch against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. but his November 5 fight won’t be in the familiar confines of MGM Grand.
Instead, because of a scheduling conflict, the Pacquiao-Vargas fight heads across town to the Thomas and Mack Center.
Also, and this might be even more interesting, the fight will not be televised by HBO. Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum was coy when the Los Angeles Times asked for details but said that a forthcoming broadcast partner reveal would be a “blockbuster announcement.”
Of course, you never can trust a boxing promoter when it comes to what constitutes blockbuster news, but the LA Times quoted an unnamed promoter who thought ESPN might be the partner in question.
In Dan Rafael’s ESPN.com’s article on the fight announcement, they don’t tip any kind of cap one way or the other, though they do go into detail about why the fight will be broadcast with someone other than with HBO.
According to them, HBO already has a PPV fight scheduled for November 19 between light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward and doesn’t want to run two PPVS in one month, diluting the product. Arum and Pacquiao remain insistent on the date because they’ve got the arena books and Pac’s schedule set as they want it to be.
The ESPN article also implies that working with another broadcaster might not be an easy task. Pacquiao is under contract with HBO and it’s hard to believe they would allow him to fight for a rival entity. That probably takes Showtime out of the running. Perhaps that’s where ESPN comes in as they’re not a true rival to HBO and might be open to sharing profits.