There were multiple reports
that an announcement was forthcoming this past weekend as to whom Manny
Pacquiao would face on April 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Top
Rank Promotions founder Bob Arum and Pacquiao's adviser, Mike Koncz met on
Saturday afternoon to discuss the possibilities. However, according to Koncz,
“Nothing was finalized,” regarding Pacquiao's next opponent.
The most commonly discussed
potential foes are Timothy Bradley - who “defeated” Pacquiao back in June of
2012 in a controversial decision - and Ruslan Provodnikov, who had a breakout
2013 in which he battled the “Desert Storm” tooth and nail before hammering
Mike Alvarado into submission.
(Now before we go any
further, yes, I've read and heard about the reports stating that Pacquiao and
Floyd Mayweather finally hooking up in September. Uh, listen; seeing is believing and the reality is, the
“Pac-Man” has a pay-per-view date in April and Mayweather has one lined up three
weeks later at the same venue. As of now, neither has a definitive opponent
lined up. So let's get to this juncture before wasting any more time talking
about a fight that seems destined to be nothing more than a fantasy (again).
Any discussion of this match-up should be tabled till the evening of May 3rd,
which at that point, only then can we
further speculate on that multimillion-dollar pissing contest.)
As for whom Pacquiao faces
in the spring, Bradley seems the logical choice. Not only is he affiliated with
Top Rank (basically a prerequisite in this Cold War era of boxing) but they
share a history. Their first meeting on June 9th, 2012 was
supposedly the latest death blow and black eye to the sport of boxing as Bradley
won a split decision, widely panned and criticized by the masses. The overwhelming
majority believed Pacquiao had done more than enough to get his hand raised in
victory. But a funny thing happened; this verdict did not kill boxing and since
then, Bradley has rehabilitated his reputation with a slugfest versus Provodnikov
and a strategic win over Juan Manuel Marquez. To many pundits and observers, he
is 2013’s “Fighter of the Year.”
So this seems to be an easy
choice; right? Well...
The problem is that while
Bradley is a premiere prizefighter, as a B-side, he still may not bring enough
to the table to satisfy what he is reportedly asking for a second go-round with
Pacquiao. Sources say Bradley is asking for in the neighborhood of $8 million (he
received a guarantee of around $5 million for their first fight). While Bradley's
stock has risen in the aftermath of their first bout, that's no guarantee that Bradley
vs. Pacquiao II would do anywhere near what their first fight did on
pay-per-view, in the neighborhood of 900,000. The reality is that pay-per-view
pairings aren't so much about the best possible fights that can be made but
really, the math working out. Their first match-up did well below other
Pacquiao pay-per-view events since becoming a global superstar after retiring
Oscar De la Hoya in December of 2008.
This much is clear; in the
aftermath of his devastating knockout loss at the hands of Marquez in December
of 2012, the Pacquiao brand is greatly diminished. His most recent event versus
Brandon Rios in Macao on November 24th garnered around 475,000 buys.
A far cry from the million-plus pay-per-view buys that Pacquiao and Top Rank
could once count on routinely. This means two things; not only does Pacquiao
most likely have to take a haircut (i.e. a pay cut) but so do his opponents for
the time being. There is also the fear that for as much controversy as their
first fight caused, the actual fight itself was rather tepid and tame in terms
of action and the return bout would again be more strategic than spectacular.
Again, this is about
mathematics and bookkeeping. If Bradley sticks to his reported demands for a
rematch, then he will most likely price himself out of the picture. This is a
whole new world as it relates to Pacquiao economics and what is financially
As for “The Siberian Rocky,”
this time last year, he was thought of as merely an “ESPN2-level fighter” but
he finished 2013 as a boxer with incredible momentum and one of the most
fan-friendly fighters on the planet. He certainly brings a favorable style to
the dance versus Pacquiao but there are a few dynamics that get in the way
here. First of all, Provodnikov’s friendship with Pacquiao, who has employed
him as a sparring partner in the past. And then there is his union with one
Freddie Roach, who just happens to train both men. Provodnikov has made it
clear that these are big issues with him and those around him have reaffirmed
that. Roach himself is very uncomfortable with the possibility of seeing
Provodnikov in another corner, even if it's for just one fight.
The fight Provodnikov really
wants is against Marquez and despite his name being repeatedly mentioned as a
possibility for April 12th, Arum has not spoken to Banner Promotions
(which handles Provodnikov) since Christmas Eve. They are said to be far apart
in money also (again, a new math exists with Pacquiao in 2014). Currently,
Provodnikov and Banner have a one-fight obligation to Top Rank as a result of
the Alvarado fight.
So this much is clear;
Pacquiao is slated to fight on April 12th. What still has to be
figured out is against whom.
And this might be decided
not by who makes the right fight but who fits the right price.
Just remember how the
general math works out with pay-per-view fights. Right around half of the money
derived from pay-per-view events go to the cable and satellite providers. So if
a fight does 500,000 buys at $65 each (generally the price nowadays), that
means that the promotion comes away with just over $16 million.
Usually the pay-per-per revenue
is the largest piece of the financial pie, which also includes a site fee from
a venue or casino, international and rebroadcast rights and various
sponsorships that go into the budget for a promotion.
So if the new Pacquiao
paradigm is more about having a half-million pay-per-view buys instead of a
million, you can see how that affects what both the A and B-sides will be
Well, I'll say this; it was
a memorable season opener for “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN2 in which Rances
Barthelemy stopped Argenis Mendez in short order to win the IBF 130-pound belt
at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But it was shrouded in
controversy as Barthelemy, who had hurt Mendez in the first frame and then
decked him in the second, landed the finishing blows after the bell had sounded
the end of round two (actually two rings of the bell).
Now I happen to agree with
ESPN2’s Teddy Atlas. It seemed Barthelemy was well on his way to winning this
fight. Mendez, the defending beltholder, simply didn't have his pins underneath
him for some reason and was getting buzzed early and often. However, that in
itself is not enough to excuse any fouls that take place during a fight or how
you rule on them. But really, the blame shouldn't be squarely at the feet of
Barthelemy but really, referee Pete Podgorski, who exhibited poor mechanics as
he was nowhere near the action as the late punches were thrown and landed.
What I've observed is when
the 10-second warning is given near the end of rounds, the referees begin hovering
a little closer around both fighters to make sure no tardy punches are thrown.
In this situation, Podgorski seemed to be closer to St. Paul than either
Barthelemy or Mendez.
My opinion is that an
immediate rematch will be ordered by the IBF.
I posed the question on
Twitter on Sunday afternoon as to whom would you like to see face Pacquiao on
April 12th between Bradley and Provodnikov. The overwhelming answer
I got was Bradley...I keep hearing that the plan from Top Rank is to move Mikey
Garcia up in weight as soon as possible in 2014 and keep him there to get him
to a Pacquiao fight...Is Andrew Luck special or what?...It’s time for the
Bengals to realize some hard truths about Andy Dalton; right?...Uh, Al Golden -
yeah, not a good look for you or for Miami that matter…