Whether you want it or not, here it is
What was rumored for the better part of the last month was officially announced on Wednesday to various media outlets: Manny Pacquiao would face Timothy Bradley on April 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a rubber match (and yeah, more on that later).
That sound you just heard was the collective groaning of boxing fans.
But give promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions credit for this. At this point, he’s not going to even bill this as the “Pac-Man’s” farewell fight because, well…he doesn’t even want to be saddled with the responsibility of having to explain why Pacquiao is still fighting in 2017. This is the reality: Pacquiao is every bit the mercenary that Floyd “Money” Mayweather is. He just might be a nicer guy who smiles a bit more when it’s called for.
He has a few fights left – with an incredibly hefty guarantee – on his deal with Top Rank that will pay him tens of millions of dollars; Pacquiao isn’t leaving that on the table. Hey, he’s got an entourage to feed. As Patrick Ewing once said famously during the first NBA lockout, “We make a lot of money but we spend a lot of money.”
This is why Pacquiao didn’t pull out of his May 2 bout against Mayweather even though he may have had a bum left shoulder. That was a money grab all the way. Damn winning; he had a check to cash and bills to pay. Yeah, that seems like perhaps an overly cynical way of putting things but can you honestly disagree with that statement in light of the non-performance put forth on that evening?
All good things must come to an end. As you see Kobe Bryant’s career playing out to its excruciating end, it’s another example that certain things just simply play out too long and swan songs are often drawn out and awkward. Bryant is no longer the “Black Mamba” that once routinely put up 40-point games. He’s now that guy barely shooting above 30 percent, reduced to being a sideshow on a dismal team that secretly wants to move on without him. Pacquiao is no longer that whirlwind who tore through one weight class after another and did it with a zeal and panache that made him a fistic icon. Now, he’s just another boxer playing out the string, hoping the cache of past performances and his reputation can help him squeeze out a few more paydays.
One day, Lakers fans (of which I am one) will look back very fondly at Kobe and his accomplishments. He’s an all-time great and will be remembered as such. But for now, he’s an incredibly high-priced albatross (the “Kobe-tross”?) to a once-proud franchise that needs build toward the future without him. Pacquiao is that to the sport of boxing (it says here that he, Floyd, Miguel Cotto and Wladimir Klitschko all need to walk off into the sunset and allow the new generation of boxing to take its rightful place) and, quite frankly, to Arum and his company as they keep seeing diminishing results on Pacquiao pay-per-view events.
(But yeah, nobody is throwing Top Rank any fundraisers. They did just fine on the Mayweather fight).
It seems almost insulting that Bradley was chosen for this assignment, given the fact there was almost no clamoring for a third go-around between the two. Yeah, while the record books will tell you this series is tied at one apiece, the overwhelming majority of the public believes Pacquiao has won at least 18 of the 24 rounds they have boxed. And while they weren’t bad fights, they weren’t all that good, either. Again, ask yourself this: Did you want to see this again?
This isn’t Mayweather-Andre Berto-bad. This here is a match-up of two Top 5 welterweights but I think it was put best on Twitter by one @cgowler83: “Is Pacquiao old and slow enough now for Bradley to finally beat him? For $75, you can find out.”
Perhaps there really wasn’t a palatable option for this particular fight, especially in a divided boxing universe (did Adrien Broner and Amir Khan truly think they would land this assignment, given they are advised by Al Haymon?) but at least Terence Crawford gave you a fresh match-up and a new face.
Been there and done that.
It’s going to be a tough sell and make no doubt about it; this promotion will be “The Freddie (Roach) and Teddy (Atlas) Show,” as the tough and colorful trainers will be counted on to be the lightning rods that will push interest in this event. Yeah, the mud will fly and reporters’ notebooks will be filled to the brim as they launch one verbal grenade after another toward each other. But when it’s all said and done, what the public buys are the fights, not the cornermen.
So mark it down on your calendars: Pacquiao-Bradley III is happening.
Whether you want it or not.
So an offer has been made by the team of IBF/WBA middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin to newly-minted WBO middleweight beltholder Billy Joe Saunders for a unification tilt in April at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Will Saunders and his promoter, Frank Warren, bite?
Seeing is believing.
NEW YEARS FLURRIES
Jessie Magdaleno will make his 2016 debut on Feb. 13 on “Solo Boxeo”…I guess I’m going with the Sooners over Clemson and ‘Bama to run over Michigan State…So do we have a deal for Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter yet?…My 2016 resolution is to buy a new pair of blue jeans. Yeah, seriously, but the problem is I like them baggy/loose and it’s hard to find those nowadays…Is Stephen Morris actually going to start an NFL game?…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.