Pacquiao asserts himself as pay-per-view star
Manny Pacquiao is not simply the best boxer in the world. He's also the sport's biggest box office attraction.
Pacquiao's comprehensive destruction of Antonio Margarito for a vacant junior middleweight title on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium generated at least 1.15 million buys and $64 million domestic revenue, according to figures announced Tuesday by HBO Sports.
Those numbers are expected to increase slightly once all the figures are counted, but Pacquiao already is assured of his third straight year with at least one fight breaking the 1 million mark.
''It wasn't even on the right-hand side of the computer spreadsheet,'' said HBO vice president Mark Taffet, whose job includes handling pay-per-view broadcasts, when asked whether the numbers exceeded his expectations. ''It's an outstanding number.''
Pacquiao's victory over Oscar De La Hoya in 2008 generated 1.25 million buys, and his knockout of Miguel Cotto last year did 1.2 million. Taffet said his last five fights combined have generated at least 5.1 million buys, putting Pacquiao on par with De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the biggest earners in pay-per-view history.
Of that group, the Filipino icon is the only non-American.
''He's become a world figure, that's what differentiates it from the superstars that preceded him,'' Taffet said. ''And his coverage is not just in sports media. He's transcended sport, to the point where he's the first non-American to generate these kinds of numbers.''
Pacquiao also generated 700,000 buys for a lopsided decision earlier this year over Joshua Clottey, a fighter who has virtually no name recognition beyond the most ardent boxing fans.
Those same fans are hoping the next fight for Pacquiao is against someone virtually everybody recognizes: Mayweather. The two sides have failed twice to reach an agreement on what could be the richest fight in boxing history, and now with Mayweather's legal trouble in Las Vegas, the matchup is looking increasingly unlikely for next year.
''Mayweather, it can't be compared to any other fight that can conceivably be made,'' said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, comparing the fight to the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight in 1971.
''That fight would be like the Ali-Frazier of our time. And you know, Ali-Frazier in 1971 was the biggest fight really of all time, at that point. The same thing would be said for Manny and Floyd this time, but you know, it takes two to make the fight.''
Arum said he's flying to the Philippines in December to celebrate Pacquiao's birthday, and at that point plans to discuss potential opponents. But he conceded in a phone interview with The Associated Press late Tuesday that he's not optimistic about Mayweather for the spring.
''Manny is there, he wants to do the fight, and Floyd for whatever reason is not prepared to fight him, so we have to go on to the next best thing if Floyd remains unavailable,'' Arum said. ''We'll see who's available and what the terms are and then we'll select an opponent. Hopefully it's Mayweather, but as the day goes by, it's not looking good.''