A Saturday press conference is in the works for smack-talkers Adrien Broner and Paulie Malignaggi.
Dougie's Friday mailbag
It's a slow weekend in boxing, so be warned: all the talk in this Friday mailbag is about the super-mega-ultra-uber fight that will probably never happen. Go ahead and read it, even if you're sick of the names "Pacquiao" and "Mayweather."
LOST INTEREST IN MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO
I just read an article about Manny Pacquiao’s advisor saying the fight can be made at the end of May, while Floyd is saying May 5th. I finally got the feeling you’ve had for a while I think; I’ve lost complete interest in this matchup and the back and forth BS that has been going on for way too long. If the match is made, fine, I’ll pay attention. But until then, I could not care any less. There are far too many other good fights that can and have been made that I can divert my attention to.
Thanks.-- Dave from Ilderton
The Pacquiao-Mayweather talk is the ultimate litmus test for boxing fans. If you’re sick of it all and you want to talk about other fighters and fights that have actually been made, congratulations, you’re a real fight fan.
If you can’t get enough of the endless back-and-forth between the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps, and all you want to do is play “the blame game” on message boards and comment spaces, I’m sorry to inform you that you are not a hardcore boxing fan and you probably fall into one (or more) of four following categories:
1.You’re a nut-hugger
2.You’re a friendless geek
3.You’re an ethnocentric jerk with a strong lean toward racial supremacism
4.You’re really, really f___ing stupid
I’m glad that you are none of the above, Dave (which is why I chose to lead this mailbag with your email).
DON’T HATE THE GAME, HATE THE PLAYERS
Happy New Year Dougie!
Hey, if you wanted to convince me that Bob Arum is responsible for holding up the super-mega-ultra-uber-fight all you had to do was skip to Issue 5. If Dandy Dan says Arum is to blame, you know it has to be true.
Actually, Rafael being right about something boxing related is not really an “issue,” is it? That’s more like a cosmic truth. “ARUM IS TO BLAME, so sayeth Dan of ESPN.com.” (Imagine a deep divine-like voice with an echo effect when you read that line.)
Seriously, if you wish to boil this whole thing down to one issue, I’ll be happy to give it to you raw and uncut: Arum will not be dictated to by Mayweather or anyone else (but especially Mayweather).
It doesn’t matter when Mayweather says he can fight. Arum is not going to go along with it as long as Mayweather or Mayweather’s operatives are telling him when and where the super-mega-ultra-uber-fight is going to take place.
Arum might be full of hot air, but the hall of famer knows that he promotes the biggest star in the sport. Mayweather thinks he’s a better boxer and talent than Pacquiao. He might be right. Mayweather also thinks he’s a bigger attraction than Pacquiao. He’s wrong.
Pacquiao’s the guy who attracted 40,000 and 50,000 to Cowboy Stadium. Pac’s the man who has sold out the MGM Grand with record gates for his last two fights while doing more than 1 million PPV buys for each show. The last time Mayweather sold out the Garden Arena was when he fought Ricky Hatton (and trust me, the joint was packed with drunk-ass British fans that night, not these message board jokers who think Floyd would have spanked Ray Robinson). Mayweather’s fights with JM Marquez, Shane Mosley and Victor Ortiz (all at the MGM) did not sell out. Don’t get me wrong, they did terrific PPV numbers. Floyd is a bona-fide boxing superstar. But Pacquiao is a little bit bigger on the international stage, and Arum knows it.
The time when this fight really had a chance to be made was probably in 2010, right after Pacquiao fought Clottey (in March of that year). The Pacquiao-Clottey PPV did a disappointing 700,000 buys. Mayweather had some “hand” at that point since his fight with Marquez did 1 million.
However, he still would have had to go 50-50 on the money/revenue split and drop the “Olympic-style” drug testing before Arum would seriously consider it. That, of course, wasn’t going to happen. Mayweather is a proud and very stubborn man, almost as stubborn as Arum.
With two guys as stubborn and spite-driven as Bob and Floyd involved, I just don’t see how the Mayweather-Pacquiao will ever happen. You don’t have to agree with this pessimistic opinion. I know it’s not cosmic truth, but it’s my take on the issue (or as much as I care to get into it right now).
ON IT GOES…
It’s tempting to think that the Israel/Palestine issue is likely to be resolved before Mayweather & Pacquiao actually happens. As someone who follows boxing a lot I am sick to death of reading about this and (as all boxing fans reading this will probably empathise) having to answer questions from friends about it. I can only imagine how the boxing writing community must feel about this subject. Has there been a more drawn out saga in the past 20 years of boxing?
Nevertheless here I am adding my voice to the chorus -- so apologies for that.
What I hope this latest instalment does do is firmly place the blame at the feet of both fighters and both sets of promoters/advisors for the fight not happening. Mayweather clearly sabotaged the first two attempts to make this fight but Arum is clearly doing his utmost to make sure it doesn’t happen and if Pacquiao allows that to happen then he is equally complicit.
I just hope that if this latest attempt fails we (the 'hardcore' boxing community) can come to some sort of agreement. I have made two New Years' Resolutions about this wretched subject: Firstly, that we try and talk about other things from now on, both within the community (no more emails to you on the subject ever again) and also with our friends/colleagues who happen to be casual boxing fans. The next time I am asked about 'the fight' I am refusing to give an opinion and will instead highlight another great fight that is going to happen. Secondly, when in the long distance future we are asked about previous generation fighters we make a point of lowering these two fighters in the esteem we should hold them.
This probably seems a small and almost irrelevant point, but, after their careers are long over and their 'Money' (sic) has been frittered away often all fighters have left is the reverence they are held by the boxing community. The likes of Thomas Hearns & Ken Bucanan may well be penniless but I will always talk about them as all-time greats and if I ever have the honour of meeting them I will buy them a drink and thank them for what they did.
PPV boycotts sound good and would undoubtedly be effective but are very difficult to organise and I am not sure that there would be enough support across the fan base to pull it off.
Maybe my New Years' Resolutions won't change anything but if everyone signed up to them perhaps it would mean we all read and talked about different elements of a great sport and it might also mean that one day the two fighters concerned might realise just how badly they damaged their reputations with real fight fans.Regards. -- Toby, London, UK
Those are excellent New Year’s resolutions, Toby. There’s no need for PPV boycotts. Both Pacquiao and Mayweather have their diehard and casual fans who enjoy watching them fight, regardless of who they are in with. More power to them.
Us hardcore fans who like to talk about good matchups that are actually happening just need to keep our focus on those upcoming fights – which include Donaire-Vazquez, Ortiz-Berto II, Cloud-Campillo, Alexander-Maidana, Broner-Perez, Martinez-Macklin, Morales-Garcia and Kirkland-Molina – and resist getting pulled into the Mayweather-Pacquiao mania.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy. (This mailbag, which I’ve devoted to the subject, is a prime example.) As you stated, it’s the one fight that casual fans want to discuss and there is no shortage of crazies on internet forums who have seemingly devoted their lives to the various Mayweather-Pacquiao debates (who’s better, who’s to blame for the fight not happening, etc.). However, you’ve got a good idea to merely replace Mayweather-Pacquiao talk with the subject of another fight.
I’m going to try to do that.
And, by the way, I absolutely agree that the legacies of both Mayweather and Pacquiao have been diminished because of their unwillingness or inability to make their fight happen. This is something that I’ve stated many times in my mailbag columns. Great fighters make the fights happen. Period. I like to use Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez as examples. That fight, which took place in 1993 when Whitaker had a contract with HBO and Chavez was exclusive to Showtime, had numerous roadblocks (not just the network issue), but it happened because the fighters MADE it happen. Those two are modern greats in my opinion.
Mayweather and Pacquiao aren’t.
ARUM IS TO BLAME
I know a lot of people don't like the way that Floyd talks and carry himself, but it works for him. I also realize that there are a lot of Pac-man fans or Mayweather haters, but when are you gonna be honest and admit that Arum is too scared to let Pacquiao fight Mayweather and he obviously makes excuses for them not fighting. If Manny had really wanted to fight Floyd he would demand the fight and go public if Arum was the one stopping him from making the fight, just like his trainer Ariza stated. – Adrian
The fight ain’t happening because Arum is a control freak, just like Mayweather. End of story.
THE WAITING GAME
Mission accomplished, buddy. Good question about good fights that never happened. I made the transition from casual boxing observer to hardcore fan in the late 1980s, so two would-be bouts that imemdiately come to mind for me are heavyweight rivalries from the 1988 Olympic Games: gold medalist Lennox Lewis vs. silver medalist Riddick Bowe and Bowe vs. his U.S. squad roommate Ray Mercer, the gold medalist in the 201-pound division.
I, like many fans at the time, believed these fights would happen as soon as one of the three won at least a portion of the heavyweight title. But we were wrong. Bowe was the first to grab what was still the biggest prize of the sports world when he beat Evander Holyfield in their classic first encounter in late ’92, but his manager/promoter Rock Newman steered him clear of Lewis. Mercer blew his chance when he was upset by Jesse Ferguson on the undercard of Bowe’s first title defense in early ‘93 (vs. a completely shot Michael Dokes at Madison Sqaure Garden.) (I was in NYC at the time, attending Columbia’s graduate school of journalism, so I went to the fight with some friends from the college. I still remember watching most of the undercard action through binoculars from the cheap seats of the storied venue.) I was pissed when an overweight and obviously undertrained Mercer allowed Ferguson to outwork him. Mercer and Bowe had a genuine dislike for each other and I wanted to see that grudgematch. I thought a motivated and in-shape Mercer could really test Bowe’s mettle in a hell of a fight.
Another would-be match between U.S. Olympic teammates that comes to mind was one that could have happened early in my boxing writing career – a showdown
between two undefeated 154-pound beltholders, ’96 U.S. Olympian Fernando Vargas and the sole American gold medalist from those games, David Reid.
I don’t know why that fight failed to happen. Oh wait, now I remember. Felix Trinidad “happened.”
The big fight that looked like it would never happen but finally did that stands out in my mind is Lewis vs. Mike Tyson, which finally came off in 2002. The exclusive network contracts of the heavyweights (Lewis was with HBO; Tyson was with Showtime) made it seem like this mega-bout was impossible to put together. The late Jay Larkin’s famous line that “Pork chops will growon palm trees in Tel Avivbefore Mike Tysonfights on HBO” said it all about this matchup. But the two U.S. cable giants eventually worked out a deal for a co-promotion/PPV broadcast. It was a huge event that did big PPV numbers, but was it worth the wait? No, not in my opinion. Tyson was both a spent bullet and a lose cannon by the time this fight took place. It wasn’t competitive or compelling to watch (unless you really enjoyed watching Tyson get his brains bashed in).
Something tells me that Pacquiao-Mayweather won’t happen until at least one of them loses a fight or two and is nearly as faded as Tyson was against Lewis.