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  • Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 PPV Numbers Fizzle: Bradley Rematch Would Have Done Better

Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 PPV Numbers Fizzle: Bradley Rematch Would Have Done Better

Lee Cleveland Updated
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The fourth fight in the eight year long Juan Manuel Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao fight saga generated about 1.15 million buys on HBO PPV, according to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum. The fight, itself, was a masterpiece and better than most of us could have hoped. Credit: Top Rank.

It was a see-saw battle that featured blood and guts, three knockdowns and a broken nose and concussion. Fans witnessed strategy and aggression at the highest level and a dramatic, unexpected ending that was culminated by a vicious one-punch knockout delivered by the fighter who appeared to be on the verge of getting stopped himself.

The fight was a success... But PPV numbers were "modest" at best given the splendor of the event and reputations both combatants. 

"We are happy. It's a very big success," Arum said Saturday morning. "The number of buys on the last day was disproportionately large. We were tracking a lot less until the last day and then we did a land rush of business. It built and built."

Perhaps Mr. Arum is just relieved Pacquiao vs Marquez IV didn't completely tank revenue-wise, thanks to many loyal, hardcore fans who purchased the bout at the last minute and presumably on a leap of faith.

Just as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr gained a bit of redemption from his dramatic 12th Round against Sergio Martinez, the action, energy and spectacular outcome of Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 may have saved Top Rank from tremendous criticism.

A lot of fans weren't happy about this bout and the slow and sluggish promotion showed.

And while the numbers were "modestly" respectful, Manny Pacquiao's 2010 title defense against Mexican bad boy Antonio Margarito received roughly as many buys. In addition, his ensuing bouts last year with 92 year old Shane Mosley and a then-presumed over-the-hill Juan Manuel Marquez yielded better results than Pac vs JMM 4 (1.3 million and 1.41 million buys, respectively).

NO ONE can dispute Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are legendary fighters who compliment each other well and have given fans three thrilling, action-packed bouts. But prior to Pacquiao vs Marquez 4, a lot of fans didn't want to see what they believed would be another close, controversial outcome with no resolution. Another "indecision" decision in the end.

Prior to Pacquiao vs Marquez IV, a huge success in the ring if not at the box office, fans wanted to see Floyd Mayweather vs Pacquiao. After negotiations for that bout folded once again, many wanted to see Pacquiao and Marquez engage with new blood and perhaps forge rivalries with different, younger fighters.

Enter: Pacquiao vs Bradley II
Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 generated about 215,000 PPV buys more than Pacquiao vs Bradley, which yielded 900,000 in June. As a result, the numbers prove Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 was more in-demand than Pacquiao vs Bradley 2, right?

Not exactly.

Pay-per-view buys for Pacquiao vs Bradley were lower than last Saturday's event for one simple reason: Casual fans weren't familiar with Timothy Bradley in June. Manny Pacquiao's reputation, alone, drove PPV volume.

Since then, things are different. Much different. Pacquiao vs Bradley was the most controversial, most dicussed fight in boxing history.

All boxing fans, hardcore and casual alike, have an opinion about Pacquiao vs Bradley and its verdict, the judges and the alleged biased HBO commentary. But more importantly, just about EVERYBODY, even those who deplore boxing, are aware of the controversy that ensued after the decision was rendered.

PPV buys for Pacquiao vs Bradley 2 would have execeeded those Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 because:

Lack of Excitment for Pac vs JMM 4:
 There was little excitment for Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum adnmitted it. 

Bradley's Familiarity: Unknown to the masses six months ago, the defiant, no-nonsense Timothy Bradley is a now a fairly mainstream public figure who casual fans are familiar with. Even many who have no interest in the sport know who Tim Bradley is. Perhaps its for the wrong reasons but name recognition in boxing, like politics, means a lot.

Controversy Sells: Labelling the outcome Pacquiao vs Bradley 'controversial' would be a colossal understatement. Most assert the decision was among the worst decisions in the entire history of the sport while some, even a few experts, insist believe Bradley's victory was well-deserved.

Has boxing ever seen controversy on the level of Pacquiao vs Bradley?

Revenge Factor: Many, even those who aren't Pacquiao fans, wanted to see Manny get sweet revenge on the boastful, seemingly undeserving Bradley. And while Pacquiao's wins over Marquez were controversial, JMM was floored 4 times in their first two bouts and, according to PunchStats, outworked in the third. A case could be made for both guys winning all three bouts.

Such wasn't the case for Pacquiao vs Bradley.

Good Guy vs Bad Guy: Good guy vs bad guy always adds to intrigue to any storyline, whether its a movie, professional wrestling match or prizefight. And let's face it, after unseating Manny Pacquiao, one of the most adored athletes in sports, Timothy Bradley became boxing's new 'bad boy.' There was no 'good guy vs bad guy' staple for last week's bout. Some might insist Marquez played the bad guy role. If he did, he makes a terrible bad guy. 

Bradley's Swagger:  Even if Timothy Bradley's win was undeserved, he was immensely successful in making a name for himself due to his audacity, tremendous confidence and swagger. And given he firmly believes he defeated Manny Pacquiao the first time, one can only imagine what he would have said or done to add intrigue to their rematch. The boastful Bradley, who confidentiality promised Pacquiao a rematch before the bout started, never minced words and kept the pre-fight promotion lively.

Even at the weigh-in, Bradley invaded Pacquiao's personal space and grimaced in the Filipino's eyes. It made for quite a seen. Many who watched were saying, "This guy really means business." 

No disrespect to Juan Manuel Marquez... His ring skills and tenacity are legendary but he woefully lacks in the personality and charisma departments. As a result, he's not a fighter who'll  generate mass public appeal across widespread demographics.

Charisma-wise, Tim Bradley may not be the next Oscar De La Hoya or Floyd Mayweather but he's far more colorful than the stoic Marquez.

World Title: Pacquiao vs Marquez 4 was a title-less fight - a bout between two non-champions. Like Mike Tyson, Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather can engage in lucrative, high-profile bouts without a title being at-stake. However, a world title 
always make things more interesting. Championships add to the mystique of the event and usually have a greater impact on the landscape of the division. Also, the thought of a new champion being crowned at the fight's conclusion adds a bit of intrigue.

Pacquiao vs Bradley 2 had everything a promoter could have hoped for...  A world title, drama, intrigue, revenge, controversy, anger, allegations, Congressional inquiries, bitterness, defiance and the 'good guy vs bad guy' motif.  

Moreover, it would have happened on the heels Pacquiao vs Bradley 1 - perhaps the  most  talked-about event in boxing history. Regardless of the outcome, this rematch would 
have been historically-significant and a bigger PPV draw than Pacquiao vs Marquez 4. 

Fact: None of the Pacquiao vs Marquez bouts were discussed nearly as much as Pacquiao vs Bradley.

But not all is lost. Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez saved the event and produced a shockingly different, even more exciting, outcome.  

Will Top Rank go to the proverbial well once again with these guys?  If so, let's hope its not out of water.

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