Philippines, Sports, television

Pacquiao, Donaire Fight on the Same Night Sunday

Two for the price of one.

On Sunday, November 6 (Saturday, November 5 Las Vegas time), two of the Philippines’ best pugilists will fight on the same night. That’s right, for the first time ever, Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire will be on one card together.

The headline attraction will pit Pacquiao against Jessie Vargas for the WBO Welterweight title. Prior to that, Donaire will defend his WBO Super Bantamweight title against unbeaten Jessie Magdaleno.

Both Pacquiao and Donaire are considered one of the best boxers in the world. Their fights have become the stuff of legend, and each have the titles to back their claim.

However, they have never shared the same stage. That is, until this Sunday in Las Vegas.

For Pacquiao, his return to the ring came unexpectedly. After defeating Timothy Bradley in April, he initially announced his retirement in order to focus as a politician, but despite winning a seat in the Senate (with mostly negative reviews from critics), Pacquiao decided to give boxing another shot.

For Donaire, it will be his third defense of the WBO Super Bantamweight title he won over Cesar Juarez in December of last year. Two weeks after Pacquiao’s victory over Bradley, Donaire successfully defended his belt against Zsolt Bedak.

As far as the Philippine broadcast rights go, that honor goes to Solar Entertainment and GMA Network, since Pacquiao is tagged as the headliner in this card. It will air on a delayed basis on GMA and Solar Sports, and live on Super Radyo DZBB 594 and all cable and satellite pay-per-view outlets.

For Donaire, it will be his first fight since 2009’s bout with Rafael Concepcion (which coincidentally aired on GMA) in which ABS-CBN does not have any television rights. The said network has owned the rights to all Top Rank cards that do not involve Pacquiao since 2010.

With two of the Philippines’ top-ranked boxers fighting on the same night, expect the millions to congregate and watch this unprecedented event blow-by-blow. But like Pacquiao’s last fight with Bradley, it remains to be seen if there are still believers in the Pacman.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television, United States

Little Noise for #PacBradIII

Sunday may be Pacquiao vs. Bradley III, but it seems as if there is not much to talk about.

While a fight involving Manny Pacquiao usually equals to ‘national holiday’ in the Philippines, his third match with Timothy Bradley will be something else. One month after the bout with Bradley, Pacquiao’s status as a politician will be on the line, as he guns for one of the 12 seats in the Philippine Senate.

Any promotional material that exceeds the limits set by the Fair Elections Act of the Commission of Elections may lead to a national candidate’s disqualification. Thus, with Pacquiao also running for Senator in this May’s elections, very little promotion was made for the fight here in the Philippines.

COMELEC, on its part, has allowed the fight to be aired here, since they received no formal complaints in relation to his candidacy. Despite that, the only known mention of a blow-by-blow multi-platform coverage is through a series of promotional videos from Solar Sports (see example below) and an announcement made by GMA online.

That said, in order to comply with the Fair Elections Act, neither Solar Sports nor GMA were able to aggressively promote the fight. Instead, they made use of news clips to inform viewers of the two fighters and the event itself.

With so little noise, not to mention Pacquiao’s controversial remarks on the LGBT community in February, the third installment of Pacquiao vs. Bradley is expected to be the least hyped of them all. The expectation that Pacquiao is using the fight just to gain the voters’ confidence may convince them not to watch the fight at all, because it may hurt the chances of other, more deserving candidates.

On Sunday, Pacquiao steps into the ring for perhaps the final time. But the question is, will you watch?

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television, United States

History of Manny Pacquiao Boxing Fights on Philippine TV

 

Before winning world championships in eight weight divisions, Manny Pacquiao was a regular fixture on the Vintage Sports boxing program ‘Blow by Blow’. (Screenshot courtesy of Vintage Television and Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation)

It’s another Manny Pacquiao fight day this Sunday.

On November 23, Pacquiao will put his WBO Welterweight Championship on the line against WBO Light Welterweight titleholder Chris Algieri in Macau. The 64th bout in Pacquiao’s 19-year career is expected to be another blockbuster, both in the box office and on television.

But before that, here is a look back at the history of Manny Pacquiao’s fights on Philippine television.

The ‘Blow by Blow’ Years

From 1994 to 1999, the now-defunct Vintage Sports produced the weekly boxing program ‘Blow by Blow’, which was aired on both PTV-4 and IBC-13. It was in this series where Pacquiao began his boxing career, and with the exception of a knockout defeat by Rustico Torrecampo, Pacquiao dominated ‘Blow by Blow’ by winning every bout he participated in.

From Sasakul to Lucero

Despite the cancellation of ‘Blow by Blow’, Pacquiao continued his emergence in the boxing ranks. From 1998 to 2003, IBC-13 and Vintage, later known as Viva TV, televised and produced Pacquiao’s fights, which include his impressive knockout victories over Chatchai Sasakul (1998) and Lehlohonolo Ledwaba (2001).

The knockout victory against Mexico’s Emmanuel Lucero in 2003 would be the last Pacquiao fight produced by Viva, as Solar Sports would acquire the Filipino TV rights to every subsequent Pacquiao bout.

From Barrera I to Morales III

Most of Pacquiao’s fights have been televised on Solar Sports since 2003. They had to do it, however, with various free TV partners.

From 2003-05, RPN-9 solely televised Pacquiao fights, the most notable of which was the technical knockout victory over Marco Antonio Barrera in late 2003. After the Hector Velasquez bout in 2005, RPN continued to air Pacquiao fights through 2010, but by then they have deferred to other networks for tape delay broadcasts.

In 2006, ABS-CBN produced all of Pacquiao’s fights that year, including a pair of knockout victories over Erik Morales. But the following year, Pacquiao decided to sign with GMA as a contract artist, and as a result, the Kapuso network would take over as the official free TV coveror of Pacquiao fights, which remains to this day.

From Solis to Bradley II

Starting with the bout against Jorge Solis, all Pacquiao fights were televised on both GMA and Solar Sports. It was also with the Solis fight that Solar began to broadcast every Pacquiao fight on pay-per-view via Solar All Access, giving boxing fans an advanced opportunity to watch a Pacquiao bout in real time.

The GMA-Solar partnership was not without complications, however. Prior to Pacquiao’s fight against Ricky Hatton in 2009, a contractual issue between Pacquiao and Solar forced the boxer to re-sign with ABS-CBN, but after resolving the issue with Solar executives, Pacquiao chose to re-sign with Solar instead.

Even though Pacquiao is currently signed with Top Rank Boxing, the promotion elected to sign a television deal with ABS-CBN Sports later that year, with the Kapamilya network choosing to focus on Top Rank’s other top Filipino boxer, Nonito Donaire.

While they earned high ratings, GMA’s airings of Pacquiao fights became a heavily-criticized affair, owing mostly to the extended commercial breaks and overreliance on ad placements during each bout. As a result, ABS-CBN and other networks would take advantage of GMA’s uber-delayed broadcasts by announcing the winner as early as possible, just to benefit a majority of disgruntled boxing fans.

Still, the GMA-Solar consortium proved to be the most successful of all the TV partners that covered Pacquiao’s major fights, not only ratings-wise, but also in terms of pay-per-view returns and ad rates.

Looking Ahead to Algieri

In two days, Manny Pacquiao will face Chris Algieri, and once again, all eyes will be on GMA and Solar who will cover the bout. Expect the two networks to pull out every stop in order to broadcast this much-awaited fight.

From ‘Blow by Blow’ to pay-per-view, Manny Pacquiao’s rise is definitely a stuff of legend. And for those who watched Pacquiao from his debut, it was all worth it.

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entertainment, Philippines, Sports, television

GMA’s Disservice to Pacquiao Fights

GMA will not air the replay of the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios fight, presumably for ratings and earnings concerns.

For the past few weeks, GMA has been replaying classic fights of Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios, which I think is unnecessary. And now GMA is not even willing to air a replay of the Pacquiao-Rios fight this Sunday night, and instead they gave the airtime to an Aljur Abrenica concert. It is a last-second decision that is undeserving and unfaithful to the network.

This is not the first time that GMA refused to schedule the same-day replay of a Pacquiao fight. From 2008-11, Pacquiao replays were aired on RPN 9, before it was reformatted to ETC. When Solar found no takers for a free TV replay, GMA stepped in and replayed the fights on either the main Channel 7 or News TV 11. However, after recent Pacquiao losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, GMA decided to again defer from airing the same-day replays and Solar was forced to look for a free TV partner.

At the last minute, IBC 13 stepped in to air the replay. The network, which recently ended its blocktime deal with TV5 last May, has a reputation for airing sports events, even introducing Manny Pacquiao to Filipino viewers in 1996. However, its signal quality will be put into question, so it remains to be seen how IBC would fare in airing the replay.

Meanwhile, GMA’s snub underscores its lack of purpose towards sports coverage. I have already written before about GMA’s lack of sports coverage, and their non-committal to a same-day Pacquiao replay was an example of their reluctance. They would have also moved the replay to GMA News TV, but they have previously committed to air the documentary on the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Instead the viewers who missed out have no choice but to watch the fight on IBC 13. And it’s a bad thing, because GMA has the wider reach and the superior signals, giving them a clear advantage. However, concerns on earnings and slumping ratings left the network with no option but to refuse a replay of the fight.

In the end, what GMA did is an act of cowardliness. Refusing to air an encore presentation of the Pacquiao-Rios fight was an example of how the Kapuso network had become: a cheap, inept and reckless network. And should Pacquiao lose, it will only add insult to injury for the management.

 

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Philippines, Sports, television, United States

No to Pacquiao Replays on GMA

GMA is once again attempting to draw extensive hype by airing classic Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios fights. However, GMA’s old approach doesn’t usually end with a win for the Pacman.

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.

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Philippines, Sports, television

The Other Pinoy Pride

Two simultaneous boxing events featuring rising Filipino boxers Johnriel Casimero, Genesis Servania and Arthur Villanueva will be aired this weekend. ABS-CBN and ALA Promotions’ successful ‘Pinoy Pride’ series will have its 22nd installment featuring Servania against Panamanian boxer Rafael Concepcion for the WBO Intercontinental Super Bantamweight Championship, and Villanueva against Mexican Jose Cabrera for the WBO International Super Flyweight Championship. And over at GMA, its ‘Laban ng Lahi’ series will pit Casimero against Mexican Felipe Salgueiro for the IBF Junior Flyweight Championship. ‘Laban ng Lahi’ airs tonight after ‘Celebrity Bluff’, while ‘Pinoy Pride’ airs tomorrow morning after ‘Matanglawin’.

While the Pinoy Pride series has become well-known for promoting young and up-and-coming talent from the ALA stable, it has been a different story for GMA’s ‘Laban ng Lahi’ series. Despite sharing the same aspect of promoting young boxing sensations, GMA produces the series on an independent basis, and through a variety of promoters. Some of the Filipino boxers who have fought in the series include Casimero, Donnie Nietes, Denver Cuello, Dodie Boy Penalosa, Brian Viloria, Marvin Sonsona and female boxer Ana Julaton.

Some of the fights featured on the series have also been re-aired on the ‘All Sports’ program on GMA News TV, which contrary to its name, has been mostly synonymous with airing boxing matches. In addition, some of the aforementioned boxers have also been profiled in another GNTV program, ‘Sports Pilipinas’.

Even though the ‘Laban ng Lahi’ series has been decently successful in its own right, it has suffered from a lack of promotion, sporadic television appearances, and a lack of available talent. The series has also been overshadowed by GMA’s promotion of bouts featuring more well-known boxers such as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Timothy Bradley, and Manny Pacquiao. In contrast, ‘Pinoy Pride’ on ABS-CBN has maintained stability over the years because of the ALA Promotions’ positive track record to training and planning the careers of their talents, in addition to aggressive promotional tactics. Some of the ALA talents went on to achieve international success after their appearances on ‘Pinoy Pride’.

The ‘Laban ng Lahi’ series may be considered GMA’s answer to ‘Pinoy Pride’, but unless they can find a stable with the same vision as ALA’s, their own series is considered an afterthought in the pro boxing scene.

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