In a move met with many
groans and hand-wringing last month, Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney for
around four billion big ones in a galaxy not so far, far away, meaning we'll be
seeing more films in the “Star Wars” franchise in the upcoming years. To many
hardcore followers, this news was met with much derision as they have been
subjected to the likes of Jar Jar Binks and “The Clone Wars” in recent years.
In short, it was too much of a good thing and Obi-Wan Kenobi did not approve.
Meanwhile, this Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the fourth
chapter of the rivalry between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez takes
place. Quite frankly, it’s a fight some have seen enough of and many more don't
want to see again.
Make no doubt about it;
despite the objections and loud outcries over the continued “Star Wars” saga,
when these films come out, you'll see long lines of fans camping out for days
at a time (personally, as someone who has seen “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes
Back” and “Return of the Jedi” multiple times, I have no horse in this race as
I never bothered to even watch the prequels). And regardless of what the critics
and bloggers will say, these productions will do boffo box-office numbers. After
all, it's the “Star Wars” franchise.
As for this weekend, there
is a bit of fatigue as it relates to Pacquiao and his recycled cast of Top Rank
opponents (since he starched Ricky Hatton in 2009, other than Shane
Mosley, he has basically fought nothing more than foes who were also
promoted by Bob Arum). And this match-up comes up a little more than a year
after they last fought in November of 2011. If you dare read the boxing forums,
Twitter timelines or any other social media platform, you hear cries that nobody
is possibly interested in this latest installment of Pacquiao-Marquez and that,
once again, that evil Darth Arum is ruining boxing. Boxing is funny in this
way. The events that supposedly nobody wants to see are the ones that actually
do well financially and the fights that supposedly have to happen for the good
of the sport - and pound-for-pound ratings - are the ones held in half-filled
Indian casino ballrooms that rarely make a ripple.
When it's all said and done,
when the numbers are tallied up, you'll find Pacquiao's latest promotion will
do within its usual range of pay-per-view buys (around a million or so, give or
take a couple hundred thousand) and it will be among the highest live gates for
the year. Like the “Star Wars” series, both fighters and this rivalry have
built-in fan-bases that will support them en masse. Personally, I've called for
fresh, new match-ups in boxing. I've dubbed the constant repeating of
name-brand opponents the “‘Police Academy’-ing of boxing”, where you see a sort
of round-robin of fights between certain fighters over and over again while
young boxers are often left on the outside looking in and the business relatively
Most every boxing fan has
seen all 36 rounds of Pacquiao-Marquez and has been enthralled by what they've
seen. Problem is as this trilogy has gone on, the action has waned. It's like
they know each other so well, they can almost anticipate what each will do
beforehand. It's like a longtime married couple who finish each other’s
When they initially hooked
up in May of 2004, it was a memorable back-and-forth affair where Marquez had
to dust himself off from three trips to the canvas in the first and battled
back to earn a draw. The rematch took place almost four years later and, in a
hotly debated split decision, the “Pac-Man” was given the verdict. The last
meeting was thought to be a physical mismatch between Pacquiao - now a
full-fledged welterweight - against the smaller Marquez. But Marquez, as he has
done for the majority of rounds against his Filipino rival, controlled the pace
of the fight and more than ever, was able to subdue the offensive outbursts and
in the eyes of many, do more than enough to get his hands raised. Ultimately,
it was another bitter defeat for the Mexican stylist.
So here we are again.
Whether this version of
Pacquiao-Marquez is like the original “Star Wars,” “The Phantom Menace” or “Revenge
of the Sith” remains to be seen.
WAR OF THE ROSES
Anyone else find this
passive-aggressive war of words taking place between Pacquiao's trainer Freddie
Roach and strength-and-conditioning coach Alex Ariza odd and fascinating? Both
men are taking not-so-veiled shots at each other while doing their best to
never actually mention specifically who they are speaking of. Roach has said
clearly that he believes that strength-and-conditioning coaches have brought
steroids into this sport (which is a blanket statement and unfair to many of
them who do it within the confines of the rules) but the fact is, he just hired
two more guys (Marvin Somodio and Rob Garcia) to help out in this capacity with
his boxers at the Wild Card Boxing Club. Ariza has suddenly become the biggest
advocate and defender of one Angel “Memo” Heredia (he of the very sketchy
background). And yeah, who, above all, has clearly questioned the methods of
Heredia leading up to this fight?
It's interesting; while at
the gym working with Pacquiao, the two work professionally and amicably with
each other. It's kinda like a divorce where the parents at least put up a good
front and get along in front of the children. In this case, that would be
Pacquiao. They have to get along or keep the peace till at least next Saturday
night. This whole scenario reminds me of the movie “War of the Roses” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098621/plotsummary)
which featured a couple who had seen better days and was plotting for ways to
get away from each other.
Bottom line is that both men
tolerate each other because they have to. Hey, this Manny Pacquiao gig pays
well; they really have no other choice for the time being.
sidelight to this promotion is how Roach has stated he asked for more stringent
drug testing leading up to this fight and how Arum resisted. The veteran
promoter has gone on record as saying that nobody made this request. On this issue, he's gone as far as stating that Ariza, of
all people, has vouched for him. This is the same Ariza Arum has been trying to
get out of his, Pacquiao's and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s life for more than a
year. I think both men in the past have painted themselves into a bit of a
corner with their past stances on drug testing.
For the second consecutive
week, we saw a franchise fighter go down in defeat and a robust market perhaps
come to a close (for the time being). Last weekend, it was Ricky Hatton who was
felled in his return to the ring in Manchester; this past Saturday night,
Miguel Cotto was decisioned by Austin Trout over 12 rounds in front of his
Puerto Rican partisans at the Madison Square Garden.
It wasn't two boxers who
lost. It was two franchises who were important to the business of boxing.
And like Hatton, Cotto had
become his own “promoter” and decided to make his own moves. For him, this included
bypassing a much more lucrative payday in a rematch with Pacquiao to face
Trout, who's biggest marketability is that he had one of those supposedly “meaningless”
title trinkets (in this instance, the WBA 154-pound strap). And while he competed
well in the early going, as the night wore on, you could practically see Cotto
age in front of our eyes as he became bruised and bloodied in the second half
of the fight. Trout, a stylish southpaw from New Mexico, asserted full control
of the fight, not just with his size but his solid skill set.
Gone are visions of a
rematch with Floyd Mayweather or a showdown with Saul Alvarez (regardless of
what Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer says).
Now, who fills Madison
Square Garden going into the future?
Showtime has announced that
on December 15th, Leo Santa Cruz's defense of his IBF bantamweight
crown will be shown on CBS, followed by a few fights on SHO Extreme and then
the Amir Khan-Carlos Molina broadcast on Showtime. That's a full day of
fisticuffs...Was Sal Sanchez II the worst opponent on HBO or Showtime in 2012?
I mean, seriously, he was worse than Orlando Lora; right?...Speaking of the Garden,
it's been made official. On January 19th, “The Theater” will host a
good-looking HBO tripleheader (Gennady
Golovkin-Gabe Rosado, Orlando Salido-Mikey Garcia and J.C. Burgos-Rocky
Martinez)...On that same night, Showtime (Devon Alexander-Kell Brook) and NBC
Sports Network (Gabe Campillo-Sergey Kovalev) have their own cards...The SEC
title game between ‘Bama and Georgia might have been the best college football
game I saw in 2012...By the way, I think the Irish hang in there for all four
quarters versus the Crimson Tide...Andrew Luck is better than advertised.
Forget “Rookie of the Year” honors; he should get a few MVP votes...Mark
Sanchez is a disaster, no other way to say it...Is Adrian Peterson even
human?...How good is ABC’s “Nashville”? That show is money…