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ESPN boosts Pac-Horn fight

By Dennis Principe

ESPN’s involvement in the upcoming title defense of Manny Pacquiao in Australia could not have come at a better time.

In an interview, Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum said that with ESPN, they are expecting millions of American to tune in and watch Pacquiao stakes his WBO world welterweight crown against the unbeaten local hero Jeff Horn.

“This has become a more important fight for Manny than we envisioned because the telecast in the United States won’t be shown on Pay-Per-View which is a relatively limited audience but will be shown in the entire country for free on ESPN,” said Arum. “So we expect in excess of 5-10 million people to watch the fight from the United States and it’s a Saturday night in the United States.”

Recently, even supposed marquee fights in boxing have had a hard time breaching the one million PPV mark mainly because of stiff pricing.

“In the pay-per-view, they have to pay $60-70 and a lot of people cannot afford it and the results have been going down. I think this will revitalize interest in Manny’s category and boxing in general,” said Arum.

Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight conquest opposite Mexican Jessie Vargas November of last year could only garner a little over 300,000 buys, a far cry from the 4.4 million buys generated by Pacquiao’s historic match versus Floyd Mayweather Jr. May of 2015.

“When we talk about this fight primarily in the States, we tell people this is going to be a real test for Manny Pacquiao. That Jeff Horn is going to give him a really competitive fight. But it’s not going to cost people any money,” said Arum.

This weekend’s card set at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane is still expected to be financially rewarding for all those involved despite it not being shown via PPV after the Australian government picked up the tab in most of the expenses.

“When Queensland government and the Brisbane City government came up with this very, very large amount of money, guaranteeing that if Manny came to fight Horn in Brisbane, they would contribute lots of money to the event. And they did,” revealed Arum.

Meantime Arum disclosed that he is lining up unbeaten lightwelterweight kingpin in Terrance Crawford of the United States or another American world titleholder, IBF 147lb champion Errol Spence, Jr. as possible future foes for Pacquiao should he beat Horn.