One of the lesser talked about subplots heading into Manny Pacquiao’s November showdown against Brandon Rios is the venue where the bout will take place. For the first time in seven years, for reasons that nobody is particularly clear on, the Filipino star has opted to take his talents overseas. And even though he claims that this is entirely the byproduct of a marginal tax increase in the U.S., some people have their doubts. The fact that this move is coming on the heels of back-to-back losses only adds questions to the whole thing.
Here is what we know for certain: Pacquiao will be sacrificing pay-per-view (PPV) numbers in America on the bet that an Asian audience will compensate for that loss, and then some. Furthermore, he’s wagering that the inevitable hit he’ll take with U.S. PPV totals will still be smaller than what he would’ve had to pay out in American taxes. Finally, he’s banking on this move not hurting his marketability in the U.S. at all.
How smart is Pacquiao’s decision? Time will tell. If he built up enough of a brand out here to the point where it can withstand him shirking a Las Vegas bout in favor of one in Macao, then it’s a very smart move. A marginal decrease in PPV revenue from the U.S. is nothing if he gets a massive Asian viewership. However, if he’s overestimating how of the latter he’ll get, then it could be a big mistake.
The really interesting thing to watch for isn’t so much what happens with the Brandon Rios fight, but what happens after that. If Pacquiao wins and re-emerges as one of boxing’s best pound-for-pounders, will he continue to snub his American audience? If the answer to that proves to be yes, then that means he’s comfortable with the decision to fight overseas. If a win over Rios results in him coming back to the U.S., though, then that’ll tell you everything you need to know about this decision.