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Manny Pacquiao vs Brandon Rios: The Biggest Fight Ever?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Recently, Manny Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, reiterated something he said in February.  "I can't imagine Pacquiao will ever again fight in the U.S."

He made the statement not long after Pacquiao vs Rios was confirmed for November 23 in Macau, China.

Arum also recently told the LA Times, "By fighting outside the country, as he’s doing in this Rios fight, Manny doesn’t have to pay U.S. taxes anymore – at a rate of 40% for a foreign athlete."

Oh, but there is more - Much more.

Manny Pacquiao, although popular worldwide, is perhaps the most well-known Asian fighter the world has ever known - Or second, if you consider Bruce Lee a fighter. However, although Lee was a superb martial artist, he was more actor/filmmaker/philospher/fight instructor than actual combat warrior.


But back to Pacquiao vs Rios... Some expect, because of China's large population, its proximity to the Philippines and Pacquiao's ethnicity, that PacMan's upcoming bout with Brandon Rios will be the biggest fight in history - at least revenue-wise.

However, due to the 2012 Scarborough Shoal standoff, relations between China and the Philippines have soured.

But will the current political climate between the two nations make a difference?  Some believe it won't and that It's practically a given that Pacquiao vs Rios will be the most watched live fight ever.

But how much money will it make?

Will overall revenue topple Mayweather vs De La Hoya (2007), the highest grossing fight to date?

Although the PPV fee for those watching Pacquiao vs Rios in China will be only $5 USD (compared to $55 -$60 in the U.S.), a staggering 80 million homes may order it. And yes, given China's population of 1.34 billion, 80 million sales is not out of the question if the fight is promoted well.

De La Hoya vs Mayweather poster

Mayweather vs De La Hoya made $165 Million USD in total gross revenue ($134.4 Million USD domestically) with De La Hoya pocketing $52 Million USD and Floyd $25 Million USD. The fight broke all pay-per-view records at 2.4 million buys and Oscar's purse for that bout is still the highest any fighter has received for one bout in the history of the combat sports.

However, PPV revenue from China alone could exceed $400 Million USD for Pacquiao vs Rios. And when the projected buyrate in the U.S plus the live gate are figured into the equation, another $80-100 Million USD can be added.

No wonder Pacquiao may never fight in the U.S. again.

"We think it opens a tremendous market in China because it enables us to do pay-per-view there in ways that we haven't done before," Arum said.

Zou Shiming
In April, the pro debut of two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming reportedly drew nearly 300 million viewers on television in China but Shiming, unlike Pacquiao, is Chinese and that bout was free.

Boxing isn't hugely popular in China so Arum's Top Rank shouldn't expect 80 million PPV buys to just fall in its lap without hard work and intelligent strategizing. 

If Shiming can get 300 million viewers (if that number is accurate) in China for his 4 round pro debut, can the popular Pacquiao get 80 million to pay $5 there for his bout with action hero Brandon Rios?

Boxing's 14 Highest PPV Draws (Based on number of orders, not revenue)

1. Mayweather vs De La Hoya (2007)  2.4 million buys
2. Tyson vs Holyfield 2 (1997)  1.99 million buys
3. Tyson vs Lewis (2002)  1,950 million buys 
4. Tyson vs Holyfield I (1996) 1,59 million buys
5. Tyson vs McNeeley (1995) 1,55 million buys
    Mayweather vs Cotto (2012) 1.5 million buys
6. Pacquiao vs Marquez 3 (2011) 1.45 million buys
7. Mayweather vs Mosley (2010) 1.4 million buys
    De La Hoya vs Trinidad (1999) 1.4 million buys
    Holyfield vs Foreman (1991) 1.4 million buys
8. Tyson vs Bruno 2 (1996) 1.37 million buys
9. Pacquiao vs Mosley (2011) 1.34 million buys
10. Mayweather vs Ortiz (2011) 1.25 million buys
     Pacquiao vs De La Hoya (2009) 1.25 million buys


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