Pacquiao-Vargas bout to be distributed by Top Rank’s PPV arm after HBO snub

MANILA, Philippines – After HBO Sports declined to broadcast Manny Pacquiao’s comeback bout against Jessie Vargas on November 5, Top Rank chief Bob Arum decided to do the pay-per-view (PPV) production himself.

Arum revealed that Top Rank’s own in-house services would produce, distribute and promote the 12-round welterweight championship clash between Pacquiao and Vargas, which takes place at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“[We] will change the way that old pay-per-view operates,” he promised in an interview with

HBO, which aired Pacquiao’s major in-ring encounters in the past, refused to handle the match-up because the cable network’s focus is on the much-awaited confrontation between light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev and former super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward on November 19. 

"And so for years, we've had this plan of having HBO distribute and it was convenient,” Arum said. “Now, because of their position that we we're too close to the Ward-Kovalev fight, we suddenly realized - who the hell needs them?" 

Arum sees it as good decision as it will allow Top Rank to directly negotiate with television distributors, which will save the promotion a large sum of money. 

"The distributor charges 7.5 percent and actually enters into three contracts with Direct TV, Dish and with in-Demand," he stated. "We do those contracts ourselves. In other words, they negotiate them but we do them ourselves, so why would we pay 7.5 percent to anybody if we can get all of the publicity and the promotion from others by supplying it to networks that have a much bigger audience then say an HBO." 

The 84-year-old promoter hopes to promote Pacquiao’s ring return versus Vargas on conventional networks such as CBS, NBC and ABC with programming highlighting the Filipino boxer’s work in the Philippines Senate and other interesting storylines that might otherwise have been carried on HBO’s highly-acclaimed 24/7 series. 

"In other words, it's like a '24/7' but I think it's going to be much more innovative," Arum asserted. "We're going to do major pieces that have never been seen before. We're going to take cameras right into the Senate, see them considering bills. I think it's going to be fascinating."

As for the commentating panel, Arum stressed that he plans to put a star-studded announcing team, which he will rival the work of HBO’s Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman. 

Arum confided that he is in talks with major boxing analysts, but he declined to name one as he has not worked out any official deals yet. 

“I think the commentating team is going to blow everybody’s socks off,” he vowed. 

According to Arum, Top Rank’s initial plans have received a good feedback from its partners and television companies, which gives him a hindsight that they could pull it off. 

“They’re all very, very receptive to getting this kind of programming,” he quipped. “But right now, this looks like the most likely scenario.” –