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Bob Arum knows Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley III will be a tough sell

Bob Arum isn't expecting Pacquiao-Bradley III to be a hot ticket, while saying he knows he has his work cut out for him to successfully build this promotion.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

Every now and then, in a sport notorious for deception, we get moments of brutal honesty. Well, this is one of those rare moments when a promoter isn't just going to just talk-up a fight that all makes us roll our collective eyes -- Bob Arum is fully aware that he has an uphill battle to successfully promote a third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.

"Will we do the same numbers for the first two Bradley fights? Probably not. We're going to try to come as close as we can, and hopefully exceed it, but I understand what we're up against. I've run my numbers and I have done my math. I'm not out here with my head up my [expletive]," Arum said.

After Timothy Bradley was selected last week to face Pacquiao in a third meeting, beating out other top candidates in Terence Crawford and Amir Khan, there were more than a few groans from fans. And those groans weren't because this is some sort of mismatch or anything, but more because the two men have fought twice before, with neither fight being particularly exciting. Add in the fact that nearly everyone, aside from a couple judges, saw Pacquiao clearly beating Bradley twice before, and it's understandable that fans would've easily preferred to see something, or anything, different.

Unfortunately, Arum said that Top Rank President Todd duBoef spoke to cable/satellite providers and MGM officials about Pacquiao's options, and everyone involved unanimously  said that Pacquiao-Bradley III would be the best-selling fight on the table. It's a little hard to question Pacquiao as a star in this sport, but if a third fight with Bradley is Pacquiao's most lucrative option while his own promoter says it'll be a tough sell, well then, it sort of makes you wonder...

The first Pacquaio-Bradley installment reportedly did 890,000 PPV buys. Then the rematch did roughly around 750,000 buys, something Arum himself described as a "disappointment." Now, with even less fanfare than the first two outings, I strongly believe that Pacquiao-Bradley III would be lucky to do half of what the rematch did. If this in fact is Pacquiao's most lucrative option, well then, his star is indeed fading fast.

So like it or not, the fight has been signed and Arum now has to go try to build an audience for this event. Arum says he won't do this by promoting the fight as "Pacquiao's last fight," but rather try to sell fans on the idea that this is a different Timothy Bradley who is now trained by Teddy Atlas.

"I ain't going to sell it as his last fight because six months later, if he decides to fight again, I'm going to look like a [expletive] huckster," Arum said.

"So we're going to promote this as the fight with a different Timothy Bradley. Bradley was a different fighter in the fight with Rios. He had a different style, a different game plan and he performed differently. If he'd have stayed with Joel Diaz and we'd put him in with Pacquiao a third time, the criticism of this fight would no doubt be justified. But he's a different guy under Atlas. Does being with Atlas change him enough to make him more competitive with Pacqiuao? I think yes, but we'll have to see."

Does any of this change your outlook on the fight? Probably not. But if trainers Freddie Roach and Teddy Atlas go at it, and HBO emphasizes Bradley as a different animal through a healthy dosage of 24/7, perhaps Top Rank can persuade a few more people to ante up who otherwise wouldn't.

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