If welterweight Manny Pacquiao's unanimous decision victory against Timothy Bradley Jr. in their third fight was indeed the last of his career, as Pacquiao said it was, he went out with a whimper, at least commercially.
Pacquiao-Bradley III, which took place April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, generated between 400,000 and 500,000 HBO PPV buys, a very disappointing result, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said Wednesday.
"It will be somewhere between those numbers, 400,000 and 500,000. It's all being added up, but it will be closer to 400,000 than 500,000. Terrible," Arum said.
Some in the industry say they think Arum is being optimistic and that when everything is counted, the fight might not even reach 400,000.
Either way, Arum said the fight, for which the main event alone cost $24 million ($20 million to Pacquiao and $4 million to Bradley), lost money.
"Yes, it loses money," Arum said. "It was not one of our big successes. It happens. We're big boys. Do I feel good about it? No."
Pacquiao, boxing's only eight-division titleholder and the icon of the Philippines, had already faced Bradley twice in fights virtually everybody thought Pacquiao won easily, though Bradley received a split decision win in their hugely controversial first fight in 2012. Pacquiao won the 2014 rematch in similarly dominant fashion and few were asking for a third fight, which Pacquiao also won handily.
But Arum said the poor numbers were not a matter of the public being tired of the matchup. Rather, he said it was more a combination of two other elements -- the overwhelmingly negative public reaction to Pacquiao's recent anti-gay comments, in which he said that homosexuals are "worse than animals," and because of a hangover from May's Floyd Mayweather-Pacquiao megafight, which cost $100 for pay-per-view and delivered so little that many fans are still upset about it.
"Certainly the pushback from Manny's gay remarks killed us," Arum said. "It hurt us a lot. But I think it was also less a reaction to the match than a reaction to the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. It was a reaction like Mayweather got. Mayweather also got punished [by consumers]."
When Mayweather defeated Andre Berto in September in his retirement fight, his first since the Pacquiao bout, it also did very poorly, generating around 400,000 buys on Showtime PPV.