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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 19, 2010

For a sure sell, Pacquiao should stick to ring


By Dave Dondoneau
TGIF Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

More than 50,000 fans watched Manny Pacquiao, right, beat Joshua Clottey, but only 603 bought tickets to hear him sing.

DAVID J. PHILLIP | Associated Press

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Fear of loss can be a great motivator, particularly when it comes to finances.

For Ryan Chang of Island Fire Productions, the chance of losing more than $100,000 forced him to cut his losses at $50,000 by canceling this weekend's concert and celebration at the Waikk Shell that was to feature boxer Manny Pacquiao as a singer.

Chang waited until 2 p.m. Tuesday to cancel, hopeful that Pacquiao's victory last Saturday night in front of 50,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium would spark a spike in ticket sales to start the week.

It didn't.

At the time of the cancellation, only 603 tickets had been sold, and for an island with a large Filipino community, that is a surprisingly low and scary number with so much at stake.

Chang said Wednesday Pacquiao still wants to come and sing on O'ahu, but the new negotiations with Pacquiao's camp are going to be a little tighter.

Sunday's concert would have been Island Fire Production's biggest event to date, and it got in trouble early. For starters, Pacquiao was busy preparing for last Saturday's fight against Joshua Clottey, so the chance for media to discuss his singing hobby (we hope it's not a second career) and create an early buzz was virtually nonexistent.

Chang had also hoped to bring Pacquiao in earlier this week to do some promoting, but he couldn't get here until Saturday so stumping for more tickets that late would have been tough.

Ben Sesepasara of Big Ben Entertainment, which has brought acts like Boyz II Men to Blaisdell Arena, urged Chang not to cancel on Tuesday and was confident the late sales would be there. Sesepasara's company helped set up the concert, but had no financial stake.

Chang did, and he opted not to gamble, particularly when much of the money was from his investors.

It was probably the right move.

On the surface getting to promote a Pacquiao appearance in Hawai'i seems like a no-brainer. The guy is so popular in the Philippines that two of his albums have gone platinum, and last week he proved again he's the biggest draw in boxing.

So, what happened?

Probably YouTube.

If you've seen clips of Pacquiao singing, you know he isn't a draw as a singer. The size of our Filipino community doesn't matter. In tight times, fans aren't going to cough up cash for what most see as a novelty act.

The shame of that is there were dozens of other good entertainers on the card to make it worth the price of admission. And yes, it would have been fun to see in real life just how good of a singer Pacquiao really is.

I hope Manny makes it to Oahu, but as a boxer. Get him to Aloha Stadium, with Floyd Mayweather standing in the opposite corner.

Now that is a show that would sell itself, guaranteed.

And fast.