Bob Arum of Top Rank needs Juan Manuel Marquez to agree to face his fighter WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao in order to pump up his pay-per-view numbers, if only for this one fight. But if Marquez says now, and that’s a real possibility, Arum has very little to offer Pacquiao with the limited fighters in his stable.
The only real option that Arum has for Pacquiao is a fight against WBO light welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov. While hardcore boxing fans might like to see a Pacquiao-Provodnikov fight, casual boxing fans likely won’t be too eager to pay $70 to see Pacquiao fight a former ESPN fighter like Provodnikov.
A fight between those guys is really more of a non-pay-per-view fight than anything resembling a fight that boxing fans should have to pay to see. That doesn’t mean that Arum is going to make the fight for regular HBO because that’s definitely going to happen. If he was able to sell a mismatch between Brandon Rios and Pacquiao as a PPV fight, without a meaningful undercard, then a Pacquiao-Provodnikov would surely be PPV fight as well. I just don’t see it bringing in more than 300,000 to 400,000 PPV buys tops. Provodnikov doesn’t have a huge pool of fans that will help push up a fight between him and Pacquiao, and the casual fans will likely wait a week to watch the fight on replay on regular HBO.
Arum is going to need someone that can at least in theory bring in fans. If he could like Mikey Garcia into putting on a little muscle and taking the fight with Pacquiao, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Garcia has a potential of being a PPV start himself someday, and I doubt he’d like the idea of being pushed up three divisions to be force fed to Pacquiao.
A fight between Arum’s fighter Jessie Vargas and Pacquiao would likely be painful to watch due to the constant movement that Vargas uses. He’s kind of a pure boxer, and it would be very difficult to see fans getting excited about those two fighting each other.
Golden Boy Promotions could start matching their fighters with Top Rank by 2015, but that’s not a given and it won’t happen in time for Pacquiao’s next fight in November.