GMA recently aired replays of classic Manny Pacquiao fights, in addition to Brandon Rios‘ more recent bouts. But here’s my question: Why do you need a replay when all you need is just a pre-fight primer?
For the past several years, GMA and ABS-CBN have been the home to two of the best pound-for-pound fighters today. GMA has Manny Pacquiao, while ABS-CBN has Nonito Donaire. The two have some things in common: both were promoted by Top Rank Boxing, have won world championships, earned endorsement deals with various products, and inspired future boxers in the Philippines. For some reason they are boxing’s version of a teleserye; GMA would air a Pacquiao fight one day, and then ABS-CBN will respond with a Donaire fight. This one-upsmanship has served well for both networks, with high ratings and earnings after each fight.
However, after recent defeats by both fighters, it becomes clear that the game of playing it safe is necessary for them to bounce back. But while ABS-CBN decided to air a primer of Donaire’s upcoming fight with Vic Darchinyan on Studio 23, GMA decided to continue its tried and tested aggressive promotion of Pacquiao through the airing of his classic bouts. Seems like they’re doing it simply to add fuel to the fire, isn’t it? But after losing to Juan Manuel Marquez in the previous bout, did GMA make the right decision?
My answer is an obvious NO. GMA should have stuck with a more low-key approach in an effort to not overhype the fight. In the previous Pacquiao defeats to Timothy Bradley and Marquez, the extreme hype and overconfidence that GMA exuded during their promotional ads proved crucial in the defeat. Let’s face it. Filipinos got used to Pacquiao winning at all costs, that they were confident that he can do the same heading into the Bradley fight. As it turned out, the younger Bradley did the right thing in stopping the somewhat overconfident Pacquiao during their fight, and that overconfidence proved costly too in the next fight against Marquez, in which he was able to knock out Pacquiao.
For GMA, it’s a sense of desperation, given that the network doesn’t have its own sports division and that they only air Pacquiao fights in cooperation with Solar Sports. And while ABS-CBN has enough resources to build their sports department, GMA lacks the necessary revenue and in-house crew to produce this big event. Pacquiao may be the biggest draw come November 24, but in the end, it comes down to the most highly-produced and well-hyped bout of the year.