ESPN to air Pac­quiao ti­tle bout

Cham­pion’s de­fense of his WBO belt July 1 in Aus­tralia marks re­turn to live net­work TV.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Lance Pug­mire lance.pug­mire@la­ Twit­ter: @la­time­spug­mire

Manny Pac­quiao’s fight next month in Bris­bane against 2012 Aus­tralian Olympian Jeff Horn will be tele­vised by ESPN, and the net­work and Pac­quiao’s pro­moter are ex­pected to de­tail a more ex­ten­sive re­la­tion­ship in the near fu­ture.

In the bout that will air in the United States on July 1 at 7 p.m. PDT, Pac­quiao (596-2, 38 knock­outs) will be fight­ing live on net­work tele­vi­sion for the first time since 2005.

The seven-di­vi­sion world cham­pion will de­fend his World Box­ing Or­ga­ni­za­tion wel­ter­weight belt at Bris­bane’s Sun­corp Sta­dium with a crowd of 55,000 ex­pected to see if Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) can pro­duce a stun­ning up­set.

The bout could move Pac­quiao, who serves as a sen­a­tor in the Philip­pines, closer to a date later in 2017 against un­beaten two-belt ju­nior-wel­ter­weight cham­pion Terence Craw­ford.

ESPN pres­i­dent John Skip­per, in a pre­pared state­ment, said the bout is “a sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment for ESPN and for box­ing fans.”

The card in­cludes a co­main event fea­tur­ing 2016 Ir­ish Olympian Michael Con­lan, and as Top Rank chair­man Bob Arum has rounded up more young tal­ent, in­clud­ing U.S. Olympian Shakur Steven­son, the ESPN re­la­tion­ship is ex­pected to pro­vide a more ex­pan­sive show­case for tal­ented fight­ers.

While HBO has with­drawn from non-pay-per­view cards this year, Arum now has an al­ter­na­tive promis­ing a wider au­di­ence for fight­ers such as his su­per-feath­er­weight cham­pion Va­syl Lo­machenko and feath­er­weight cham­pion Os­car Valdez.

The ESPN broad­cast team will fea­ture Ti­mothy Bradley, the Coachella Val­ley fighter who has met Pac­quiao three times.

And ESPN De­portes’ cov­er­age will in­clude anal­y­sis by Juan Manuel Mar­quez, who has fought Pac­quiao four times.

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