- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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HBO made it 2-for-2 in securing the rights to the first two major pay-per-view fights of the year on Tuesday, announcing that it had finalized an agreement with Top Rank to produce and distribute welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao's defense against Timothy Bradley Jr. on June 9 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The announcement coincided with the day that Pacquiao and Bradley kicked off a two-city media tour in Los Angeles to promote the fight.
"Manny Pacquiao's fights are always special events and we are very excited that his June 9 fight with Timothy Bradley will be presented by HBO Pay-Per-View," HBO Sports president Ken Hershman said in a statement to ESPN.com. "We look forward to working with Manny, Timothy and Top Rank on this major PPV event."
Last week, HBO PPV secured the rights to the May 5 fight at the MGM Grand between junior middleweight titlist Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather Jr., a welterweight champion who is moving up one weight class to challenge Cotto for his belt.
Showtime was in the running to land Mayweather-Cotto, but it did not come as much of a surprise that Pacquiao-Bradley landed at HBO.
Pacquiao had been a staple on HBO PPV in recent years until Top Rank chairman Bob Arum and president Todd duBoef took him to rival Showtime PPV for his May 2011 fight against Shane Mosley. They were dissatisfied with the way then-HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg was dealing with them.
Pacquiao's defection to Showtime ultimately was a major reason why Greenburg was forced out in July and replaced with Hershman, the former Showtime Sports general manager.
After Greenburg was ousted, Arum brought Pacquiao back to HBO for his November pay-per-view fight against Juan Manuel Marquez and had said all along he felt like he owed it to HBO to remain there for Pacquiao's next fight as long as the deal was similar.
The fight with Bradley will be Pacquiao's 13th as a main event fighter on HBO PPV. Pacquiao (54-3-2, 38 KOs) will be making his fourth welterweight title defense against Bradley (28-0, 12 KOs), a junior welterweight titleholder who is moving up for the opportunity.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.
HBO made it 2-for-2 in securing the rights to the first two major pay-per-view fights of the year on Tuesday, announcing that it had finalized an agreement to produce and distribute Manny Pacquiao's defense against Timothy Bradley Jr.