The fight, which was long ago a fait accompli, was made official this week when it was announced that Manny Pacquiao will be facing Shane Mosley on May 7th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Whether we liked it or not (and those who are for this fight can be counted on one hand), Bob Arum was going to make this a reality. This proves once again that the best thing about Arum is that he doesn't give a damn what you or I think. The worst? He doesn't give a damn about what you or I think.
Judging by the reaction in cyberspace, whether it’s on various online forums, Twitter, or the media outrage, this fight has brought upon a storm of criticism that rivals the downpour that has come across Southern California recently.
"Listen," said a determined Arum on Tuesday night, "we thrive on criticism. Everybody greeted our last promotion [Pacquiao-Antonio Margarito] with a modicum of criticism and by the time the fight happened, you didn't hear very much." True, that fight that took place on November 13th at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas did well over a million pay-per-view buys. But why Mosley? Have we not seen his last 24 rounds in the ring? A virtual whitewash versus Floyd Mayweather and a flat performance against Sergio Mora? “Sugar” is now more “Saccharin” than anything.
"Because Mosley is the most recognizable name and it will do the biggest business," reasoned Arum. "Our canvassing showed that the general fight fan, the general sports fan, knew Mosley to the exclusion of the other two."
Perhaps Arum is correct but the question is, just how damaged is Mosley's reputation in the wake of his last two fights? And while his fight with Mayweather did almost 1.5 million buys with him as the B-side, his next bout with Mora did under 200,000 purchases. The two other perfunctory candidates were Andre Berto and Juan Manuel Marquez, who, in reality, were never real options for the “Pac-Man.”
The problem with Berto is that the “A” in Andre could stand for “anonymous.” "Well, he never fought anybody," pointed out Arum, in referencing Berto’s never-ending run of sub-par opposition on HBO, which has lined his pocketbook handsomely yet failed to make him anything near a household name in boxing circles. As for Marquez, who has a storied history with Pacquiao and seemed to be a perfect opponent on Cinco de Mayo weekend, according to Arum, the proposal sent to them by Golden Boy Promotions basically priced themselves right out of the equation. "Yes, more than double what they got for the Mayweather fight," said Arum. "Now, he may think that Al Haymon's smarter than me, [Richard] Schaefer- but he's not THAT much smarter, that I'm going to pay his fighter more than twice what he got to fight Mayweather. Because as I recall, that fight, Marquez lost it, didn't he?"
When asked what Marquez and his camp requested, Arum told Maxboxing, "They asked for a combination that would bring them over $8 million," which was structured to be a $5 million guarantee with a pay-per-view upside. Arum added, "As against a $3.2 million guarantee and a dollar upside over a million homes."
But it's being reported that Mosley- who by the time this fight takes place in five months, will be nearly two-and-a-half-years removed from his last victory- is receiving a $5 million guarantee.
The real reason that Mosley is getting this assignment is very simple- he ditched Golden Boy, Top Rank's archrival. When he was still a “partner” in that company back in late September, Arum said these words to veteran boxing scribe Michael Marley of Boxingscene.com after his desultory draw versus Mora:
"I did and I read them saying Mosley was huffing and puffing for air in the fourth or fifth round," Arum said. "To me, that is the real tipoff for an aging fighter. Even Big George Foreman did that in his 40s but he always had that big, big punch like in the [Michael] Moorer fight.
"What I've read is not very supportive to make any Mosley-Pacquiao bout. Look, he's going to be 40 and he's in the lighter weights where speed is so important. He's on a show with guys -- example, 20-year-old Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez -- old enough to be his son.
"I guess Shane needs the money due to his matrimonial situation (a divorce under harsh California community property rules)," Arum said. "I've always considered Shane to be a nice guy but this is what happens to fighters when they age.
"It's like [Bernard] Hopkins, he still knows how to fight but who wants to pay to see him now? His fights are not very scintillating. What you see with Hopkins we're beginning to see with Mosley."
Arum said he wouldn't be interested in playing the flak-catcher if he made a Shane-Manny bout at this point.
"I have to constantly be aware of this, the flak from the naysayers. We've faced with [Antonio] Margarito for Nov. 13 and we got real, instant flak. But now even the naysayers are looking at that just as a fight. Now the pendulum is swinging the other way and they're saying maybe Antonio is too strong or too big for Manny."
As Mosley became a free-agent and enlisted the services of his new adviser, James Prince, they were soon in the offices of Top Rank in Las Vegas in early November during the week of the fight between Juan Manuel Lopez and Rafael Marquez and the week after, they were in Dallas. Now Arum says of Mosley, "He really knows he's going to win the fight and he can; he can. He's a real slickster, real tough style for Manny; he knows how to handle Manny. He's a little long in the tooth but it's going to be a very difficult fight. Manny knows that."
In the past, Floyd Mayweather has rightfully been accused of judiciously picking his opponents. Well, based on recent history, there's no two ways about it. While you can't necessarily blame him for not facing “Money” at this moment (Arum said of Mayweather, "We made as much noise as possible; let it be known that Mayweather had to just indicate that he wanted to do a fight and we would've put everything on hold. But the silence was deafening."), his recent run is very Mayweather-esque and while he has the power and influence to tell Arum who he wants to face, he didn't.
That falls squarely on the feet of the congressman.
Ultimately, they are doing this for one reason- because they can. Pacquiao is no longer just a prizefighter but a brand, one that has been driven by the idolatry in the Philippines and the crossover appeal he now has with the American public. Now this loyalty with the public will be severely tested in May. Pacquiao is at that point now that his fights are now events, worldwide happenings where boxing takes center stage. It's no longer about who Manny Pacquiao is fighting. It's now a “Manny Pacquiao fight” and perhaps it doesn't matter who is on the bottom ledger of the marquee.
What is interesting will be Arum's theory tested, as it relates to pay-per-view success really being tied to the casual follower of the sport and not the hardcore denizen of boxing. In other words, you, the schmuck who watches “Solo Boxeo” and orders “Latin Fury” will always be there- no matter what- almost like the co-dependent battered spouse. But it's those folks who watch boxing about twice a year that really drive this particular platform. Arum has always believed that pay-per-view shows are about big, recognizable names. He certainly has that in Pacquiao and Mosley. What he may not have is a competitive fight. Can Arum convince (or perhaps fool?) those who don't know much about this sport that this fight is worth 60 bucks of their hard-earned money?
Judging by what I've read, this might be boxing's version of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. By the same token, maybe all this screaming is done by a vocal minority. Perhaps P.T. Barnum was correct; there really is a sucker born every minute.
Whether this fight turns out to be the modern-day version of Holmes-Ali or Holyfield-Tyson I, the overwhelming reaction of those who still care about this sport has been very much like that of famed movie critics Blaine Edwards and Antoine Merriweather: (Click Youtube video on this page)
It looks like Miguel Cotto's next bout, scheduled for March 12th in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, will be without HBO, which is reportedly going to televise a Sergio Martinez fight. But the question is, why?
"Well, his ratings are too big; that scares them," said Arum, who pointed out, "I'm being facetious. I mean, can you believe Cotto's been their mainstay for so many years and for them to say that him against Vanes Martirosyan, they wouldn't do [that particular fight]? But they were considering doing Sergio Martinez and Andy Lee, who's never fought anybody."
And Arum being Arum- to his credit- will go on with his show and promote his man.
"Yeah, let the people decide," he stated on Tuesday. "We're going to put him- it looks like we're going to make him- against Ricardo Mayorga. I've been talking to [Don] King all day."
Arum and King together again, like old times, eh?
"It's terrific. I mean, not like old times because we're older people and we know each other’s tricks. So it saves a lot of time," said Arum, chuckling. "But no, if they were all like King, at this point, life would be a lot easier and a lot more fun."
Could he have imagined saying this about 20 years ago?
Word is now that HBO may have disapproved Lee and it's not clear just who “Maravilla” will face on this date. Perhaps the network moves off that date. Arum says, "They can do what they want but we're making arrangements with Showtime and CBS to distribute that fight."
VIVA LAS VEGAS
So why is Cotto, like Pacquiao, fighting in Las Vegas?
"Because Las Vegas is starved for big fights and we were told that the Puerto Ricans, because of the time of year, will travel to Vegas," Arum explained. "And it's good for the town and we're not going to go crazy with ticket prices and at the end of the day, we'll do a lot better than we would in Puerto Rico."
I might be in the minority but I actually think Cotto-Mayorga will be a fun fight.
Hearing that HBO is pushing hard for Sergei Dzindziruk to face Martinez. Only problem is, with Dzinziruk asking for around a million, Martinez might actually make a bit less than he did for facing Paul Williams a second time, I'm told. Here's the thing; I'm not saying Lee is better than Dzindziruk but he is basically an unknown quantity in the States and Lee is a better fit in New York on St. Patty's Day, in my opinion. And I'm guessing either fight would do about the same ratings...Chris John will not be facing Yuriorkis Gamboa in March as planned. Bottom line, with the money HBO is putting up for that fight, John can make more money in Indonesia facing the guys he has...Arum tells me that Gamboa has been taken off the March 5th broadcast by HBO and if he isn't re-slotted, he will appear on one of Top Rank's upcoming pay-per-view undercards...Hearing that the Showtime bantamweight tournament conclusion could be happening on April 23rd at the Nokia Theater at LA Live...For entertainment purposes only but 5Dimes.com has Pacquiao a 7-to-1 favorite over Mosley...”Top Rank Live” kicks off 2011 on Jan. 22nd at the Texas Station in Las Vegas with a show featuring Diego Magdaleno and Roberto Marroquin. Then on Feb. 5th, they have a show at the Agua Calientes in Rancho Mirage, California that will have Martirosyan making his return...Has it stopped raining in SoCal, yet?...Where will Larry Brown coach next? Because you know he will...Is it a sign from up above that the two NFL franchises rumored to be headed to Los Angeles (the Vikings and Chargers) have had weather-related maladies with their stadiums?....