In an unexpected move, HBO Pay Per View has dropped the rights to air Manny Pacquiao vs Jessie Vargas. The welterweight bout is Pacquiao’s first fight after having previously announced his retirement back in April 2016. HBO has not made a statement about the move, but Bob Arum has offered an explanation.
Promoter Bob Arum confirmed HBO’s exit and shared the news with Ring TV. He also revealed that it was not a matter of securing a deal renewal, but that HBO actually decided not to take advantage of a solid multi-fight contract that was still valid. “Definitely it’s not going to be HBO. HBO had a contract and decided to pass because it was two weeks in front of their Ward-Kovalev fight,” said Arum.
He also said that if HBO had not decided to drop the fight, he and his team would not have had any choice but to air the fight on HBO. With the contract now effectively void, Arum is free to look around for any takers. ESPN, Turner Broadcasting and Showtime are being touted as possible broadcast partners.
HBO Pay Per View had previously confirmed that they will be airing the light heavyweight fight between Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward on Nov. 19. However, ESPN reported earlier this month that Pacquiao has decided to come out of retirement only four months after initially announcing it. The Manny Pacquiao vs Jessie Vargas is scheduled on Nov. 5, just two weeks ahead of Kovalev vs. Ward.
HBO’s decision to drop Pacquiao vs Vargas could potentially strike them out of a lucrative deal. If Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. eventually have a rematch, HBO would not have the automatic rights to air. While probably not as big as a blockbuster as their first fight, a Pacquiao vs Mayweather rematch will surely draw a bigger audience that the welterweight bout against Vargas.