Bob Arum slams HBO for not distributing Manny Pacquiao’s next pay-per-view

Timothy Bradley Jr., left, and Manny Pacquiao square off on April 9.
(John Gurzinski / Getty Images)

Veteran boxing promoter Bob Arum, criticizing HBO for “abandoning” Manny Pacquiao “after sucking him dry for 10 years,” said Thursday he’s mulling self-distributing the fighter’s Nov. 5 pay-per-view fight against welterweight champion Jessie Vargas.

HBO informed Arum this month that it would not distribute the Pacquiao-Vargas bout that will be the Philippines senator’s first fight since winning election and briefly retiring.

Vargas is making his first World Boxing Organization title defense.


“In my opinion, they have an obligation to distribute this fight,” Arum told the Los Angeles Times in a telephone conversation from a vacation in Aspen, Colo.

“The fact that they passed means the contract is over, it seems clear to me. They can’t pick and choose which fights they are going to distribute. They’re either in breach of contract or they’ve ended the contract. My feeling is, based my legal background, is that the contract is terminated.”

HBO officials wouldn’t comment publicly on the matter beyond saying the network “has an [existing] agreement with Top Rank and Manny Pacquiao.”

The network has televised nearly all of Pacquiao’s major pay-per-views, including triumphs over Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Juan Manuel Marquez.

But the network has communicated internally that it prefers that Pacquiao fight on Oct. 29 – a date preceded by Tyson Fury’s heavyweight title rematch against former champion Wladimir Klitschko – and that the Nov. 5 date was unappetizing.

“Don’t they understand his schedule is based on the [Philippine] Senate?” Arum asked.

“And somebody should remind [HBO] how many Philippine American subscribers they have – who aren’t going to take kindly to this.”

College football, the NBA, NHL and the pending presidential election are certain to distract the boxing audience, HBO officials have said internally.

Additionally, HBO has another pay-per-view card on Nov. 19, the light-heavyweight bout between unbeaten three-belt champion Sergey Kovalev and unbeaten former super-middleweight champion Andre Ward.

“Who are they to say it’s an awful date? It’s my money,” Arum said. “They have no risk on this. I think it’s a good date. The presidential date is irrelevant, and the college football schedule on Nov. 5 is less important than Nov. 19.”

Arum’s company, Top Rank, has reached out to Turner Sports about distributing the pay-per-view broadcast, and plans to pursue talks with ESPN and Showtime, he said.

“We’re open to discussing it,” Showtime Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza said in a Thursday text message to The Times.

Arum, insisting the Pacquiao fight will draw a significant audience, said he’s also intrigued by returning to the idea of self-distribution.

Pacquiao has won a record eight weight-class world titles, and in May 2015 generated a record pay-per-view in his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr.

“We have an interest in distributing it ourselves. Why pay a distributor 7.5% if I don’t have to?” Arum asked. “There’s people out there who know how to distribute a pay-per-view. How many people does it take?

“We could do it, and it’s definitely one of the options.”

Arum said it “remains to be seen” what becomes of the Pacquiao-Top Rank-HBO relationship.

While one network official said pay-per-views usually require mutual agreement of all parties, Arum said that. in the Pacquiao case, “[only] the opponent has to be mutually agreed upon. It clearly says that.

“We’ll do what we have to do.”

Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire