While Top Rank has set aside a date for a November 12 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas, what is so far unknown is whether or not the fight will be on HBO or Showtime pay-per-view. Pacquiao had been an HBO staple for years before suddenly he and Top Rank jumped his ship over to Showtime for the Shane Mosley fight on May 7, which stunned many who know anything about the boxing TV business in the United States. HBO has for many years now been the clear No. 1 player in boxing in the States, while Showtime was a respectable but distant No. 2. Pacquiao taking his talents to Showtime was unexpected to say the least.
Right now, Top Rank's web site has a poll up asking fans which network they'd prefer to see Manny on in November. He has no contract with either company, so it's up in the air, and both should be expected to make serious, big money offers for the fight. The results are pretty damn one-sided:
Pretty big split there. Why would the general public prefer HBO so greatly to Showtime? I think it's simple: HBO is more well-known, and thus "better." Similar to if you posted a poll on a general public web site that asked, "Which rapper is better? Lil Wayne or Rakim?" Lil Wayne would win. Or if you asked, "Who's the greatest fighter ever? Sugar Ray Robinson or Manny Pacquiao?" Manny Pacquiao would win. I've seen it.
People also seemed to largely prefer the dramatic, sweeping, Liev Schreiber-narrated "24/7" to "Fight Camp 360." The criticism of the FC360 ratings is noted, but as we've said before, pretty baseless, considering the "bad ratings" on CBS equaled more viewers than the "good ratings" for the recent editions of the HBO show with Pacquiao featured (Cotto and Margarito fights).
And as much as I hate to say this, the general public seems to prefer the HBO crew on commentary. For one thing, people apparently like Larry Merchant. This is baffling to me, as baffling as thinking Lil Wayne is better than Rakim, or that "American Idol" is a good show. It's kind of a celebrity effect; there are also people who thought Joe Morgan was a good baseball commentator, simply because he was on the big ESPN game every week. Lampley and Merchant, with their rotating third man, have been the voice of big boxing for a while now.
I mean, I guess what I'm saying is that I hope Top Rank doesn't take this too seriously. The fight is going to be on pay-per-view either way, and it's not like the people who would buy are going to avoid it because they'd rather it be with HBO than Showtime. I also don't actually care what network gets the show, because in the end it's the same show, so I guess if it does matter that much, to hell with it, put it on the network people think is better.