In three days Philippine boxing icon and 8-division world champion Manny Pacquiao will face off against undefeated Australian welterweight fighter Jeff Horn at the latter’s hometown of Brisbane.

The fight ominously billed as the “Battle of Brisbane” (an oblique reference to a riot in the city during WWII between American and Australian servicemen), will be with the WBO welterweight title on the line. Pacquiao won the WBO welterweight belt from his “comeback” match against Jessie Vargas towards the end of 2016, the third time he has held it in his career.

What is interesting about this match-up can be found not only in bot combatants but in the circumstances of presenting the fight itself. After a long period of being something of a pay-per-view exclusive, Pacquiao vs. Horn will for the first time in years be aired free on some territories, such as ESPN in the US.

Back on basic cable

The “Battle of Brisbane” fight will be aired on ESPN's basic cable channel the evening of July 1, while the match in Australia will be happening on the morning of July 2 due to time differences. It is interesting to note that this will be the first time since 2005 that a Pacquiao matchup will be available for viewing on a non-premium non-PPV cable channel.

For Top Rank Promotions, which handles Pacquiao, this is also something of a return for them as well, having aired some of their fights on ESPN from 1980 up until 1996.

The Ring magazine’s site reports that the Pacquiao vs. Horn bout will be the first in a new and major two-year contract between Top Rank and ESPN. In the meantime, Australia and the Philippines, home countries of the respective fighters, will still be slapped with pay-per-view requirements to watch the bout live, with rights held by Main Event and Philippine network ABS-CBN.

Losing PPV views

The fact that a boxing match with Manny Pacquiao will be featured on basic cable after a long strictly PPV period is something of a landmark event for the longtime legend of the sport. He is significantly older than his opponent Jeff Horn, and the returns from his past pay-per-view battles have shown a downward trend in numbers.

In a way, this could be attributed to the lackluster quality of some of his past matches. The 2015 “Dream Fight” between him and Floyd Mayweather turned out to be anything but. There was little excitement in the eventual decision win by Mayweather, who is set to face Conor McGregor this same year. Pacquiao thinks Floyd will win this, but that it will be just as "boring" as their past fight.

With concerns over even fewer people willing to PPV another potential yawner of a Pacquiao match, the decision to air his fight with Horn on ESPN was understandable as a precautionary measure. Another matter of concern for Pacquiao fans is whether or not he will be able to win by knockout (or TKO) over the Australian; the last time he had done so was in 2009 (KO Ricky Hatton) and 2010 (TKO Miguel Cotto).