HBO says it won't cancel next month's pay-per-view bout between antigay boxer Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley, Jr., reports USA Today.
But the network did deliver a counterpunch to Pac Man's LGBT-hostile rants, issuing a statement denouncing what HBO called his "insensitive, offensive and deplorable" comments Pacquiao to his social media followers and to reporters.
Last month, Pacquiao's sponsor Nike dropped the Filipino boxer, after he said gays and lesbians were "worse than animals:"
"Woman was made for man, man was made for woman. It's common sense. Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female? The animals are better. They know how to distinguish, male or female.
"If we approve male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animal."
Although he swiftly apologized for the hate speech, he followed that by clarifying that even though he was sorry for making that comparison, he remains staunchly opposed to same-sex marriage, and quoted a scripture passage that says gay people should be put to death.
Pacquiao also took some hits from the promoter of the HBO fight, Bob Arum, who told USA Today that he "vehemently disagreed" with Pacquiao’s statements, but defended the boxer's right to his opinion, no matter how polarizing.
To Arum, Pacquiao acted selfishly by making those comments just weeks before the fight, which he feared could hurt PPV sales, and in turn his opponent's earnings.
The fight next month is said to be Pacquiao's last professional bout, as the conservative Christian sets his eyes on another prize: a Senate seat in Filipino government. He already serves as a member of the House and has told reporters he has aspirations of running for president.
Read HBO's statement condemning Pacquiao's remarks, but affirming the fight will still be shown on PPV below.
“Next month Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr. are scheduled to meet in a Pay-Per-View bout. We have an obligation to both fighters and, therefore, will proceed to produce and distribute that event. However, we felt it important to leave no uncertainty about our position on Mr. Pacquiao’s recent comments toward the LGBTQ community. We consider them insensitive, offensive and deplorable. HBO has been a proud home to many LGBTQ stories and couldn’t approach this event without clearly voicing our opinion.”