MVP group lukewarm to financing Pacquiao fight in April

Businessman Manny V. Pangilinan. (NPPA Images)

The top executives of sportsman and business tycoon Manny Pangilinan appear lukewarm to a proposal to underwrite the staging of Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring on a tentative April 20 date in Manila titled “Road to Redemption.”

Pacquiao himself has indicated he would like to fight in April to obviously erase the doubts caused by his  shocking sixth-round knockout at the hands of Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last December 8.

The crushing defeat forced the Nevada State Athletic Commission to impose a 90-day ban on Pacquiao entering the ring which would make the cut-off date around the first week of March.

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However, the ban cannot be enforced in the Philippines or any country outside the United States that is prepared to ignore it, which has probably fueled Pacquiao’s efforts to return to the ring in Manila.

Originally, three possible sites other than Manila were mentioned as among the options – Macau, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.

The Venetian in Macau was ruled out because of a contract with a Korean pop star while an April 1 date was also scuttled since Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said the pay-per-view market would not be attractive since the fight would clash with the big NCAA Final Four in the US.

Arum’s stepson and Top Rank president Todd duBeof traveled to Singapore but according to Arum there was no reasonable deal available.

A week later, Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz went to Singapore for three days, but he had no comment to make which was another way of saying, no deal was made.

There was no word on Abu Dhabi although as the talks appeared to be fizzling out in other areas, celebrated trainer Freddie Roach revealed that he had received a call from an unidentified individual in Dubai expressing interest in promoting a Pacquiao fight in the oil-rich emirates.

In an article in the International Business Times, Adrian Black quoted Roach who said “I Got a phone call from someone in Dubai on Monday who offered $10 million for Manny to fight there in April.”

Roach did the right thing by telling the individual “to call promoter Bob Arum because I don’t make his fights, I just get him ready.”

Roach appeared pretty excited about the prospects of an April fight in Dubai even though he had previously come out strongly in favor of waiting until September and then taking on Marquez for a fifth time. It was a position shared by Arum and Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza who said Pacquiao ran the risk of losing and it was not worth it.

Roach however said that a fight in a place like Dubai “could be great. It’s a great location for pay per view and TV networks and it would be seen worldwide.”

The trainer believes there would “definitely be a lot of interest for a fight to take place there so it has the potential to be a great event.”

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Team Pacquiao member Eric Pineda’s proposal to Pangilinan to help make the fight happen was passed on to Maynilad president Ricky Vargas and Al Panlilio, who heads the MVP Sports Foundation, for evaluation.

In fact Vargas was tasked by Pangilinan to meet with Pineda and discuss the proposal in which Pineda indicated Pacquiao would take “a substantial reduction in his purse” from the reported $27 million he received for the fourth fight with Marquez, to $21 million.

The financial estimate submitted to Vargas  totaled $34 million with gross income “conservatively projected” according to Pineda at $35.9 million.

Pineda claimed that pay-per-view numbers would reach around 950,000 and based his estimates on the PPV numbers for the Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley title fight and the fourth fight which Marquez.

The Bradley fight was a disappointment in terms of pay per view and was reported to have registered around 700,000 buys while the Marquez fight was believed to be some 1.2 million.

Considering that the April fight of Pacquiao termed “The Road to Redemption” is not a title fight, the figures appear unrealistic.

We recall that when the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN handled the WBC International super featherweight title between Pacquiao and Mexican Oscar Larios the total budget was $4 million and the outcome was less than rewarding, with the network handing out choice tickets free to the Sunday morning fight at the Araneta Coliseum on July 2, 2006.

Pangilinan and PLDT Smart put together a IBF International featherweight eliminator for the No.2 spot at The Fort open air arena on December 11, 2004 in which Pacquiao scored a 4th round TKO over Fahsan 3K Battery before some 25,000 cheering fans which included big names in government, sports and show business.

Pacquiao has grown in stature since then and despite his loss to Marquez still commands both a following and a price which on the face if it doesn’t appear an attractive proposition.

As Alex Ariza says, the absence of an April tune-up fight “doesn’t really matter.”

Or does it?

Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.