Pacquiao-Horn on New ESPN/Top Rank Series
WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao will return to the ring in a few short weeks, as he defends the title against Jeff Horn in Australia on July 2 (July 1 in the U.S.). This bout will air on the premiere of a new Top Rank show to air on ESPN and ABC.
Multiple sources have confirmed that the Pacquiao-Horn bout will air on ESPN, and an announcement on the new Top Rank show is expected within the next week. It’s expected that Top Rank will air seven shows on ESPN and ABC this year, with an additional 18 scheduled for next year.
This new series will see superstar boxers and highly competitive fights, including title bouts. This new Top Rank program joins a new Golden Boy series, which showcases top prospects in action, in new boxing shows debuted by ESPN this year.
Additional headline fights expected for later this year include Vasyl Lomachenko defending his junior lightweight title against Orlando Salido, and Terence Crawford taking on Julius Indongo in a junior welterweight title unification bout.
It is unknown if Top Rank will cut its current deal with HBO, but the amount of dates available to broadcast, and potential audience, may have played a role in this decision.
"Boxing, on a global basis, is one of the biggest sports in the world," Arum said. "Unfortunately, we haven’t seen that in the United States because everything is either on pay-per-view or on two premium networks [HBO and Showtime], which have a limited audience.
"For example, they did a survey at HBO. Of the 30 million subscribers, less than five percent really wanted to watch boxing. That’s a million and a half households. A lot of those households will have other appointments when a fight is aired. So you’re dealing with a [expletive] small audience."