COMMENTARY | When two evenly matched fighters pair up for the third time, fans are usually hoping for some closure to the rivalry. The third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jaun Manual Marquez left more questions than answers. As a heavy favorite, Pacquiao was unable to deliver the exclamation point that he and his trainer had predicted. What the fight did answer was the growing skepticism that his promoter has led his fighter on the path of least resistence, and against a true boxer and counter-puncher, the pound for pound king was exposed.
Pacquiao is a tremendous fighter, and nothing should be taken away from that fact. However, from true fight fans, and not Mannymania fans, some questions are being demanded to be answered. Floyd Mayweather may not have watched the fight as reported, but certainly the discussion after the fight must have caught his attention. Like him or hate him, one fact remains: Mayweather has been the best boxer the fight game has seen since Pernell Whitaker. The other fact remains: Pacquiao has been the most exciting fighter we’ve seen since Mike Tyson. That said, the interest for the Superfight continues to grow. As each fighter wins, the momentum continues to grow. The decision rendered on Saturday will be just a footnote if the contracts between the two best in the sport are signed.
The aftermath of the fight Saturday is a different story. What it did was resurrect some of boxin’gs ugly past, where fights were predetermined before the first bell ever sounded. Knowing the juggernaut that Bob Arum is in the sport, and his sordid past having admitted during a federal trial to paying off the IBF president to gain a higher ranking for one of his fighters, can we honestly believe he has no control of fights? This decision wasn’t a black eye for the sport, necessarily, but what it did was open the eyes of fans around the world. I’m not talking about the die-hard Marquez fans or Pacquiao fans. I’m talking about the true boxing fans; the ones with the knowledge of boxing’s sordid past. Boxing is called prizefighting for a reason. Bob Arum’s job as a promoter is based on one thing: to make a big profit. PERIOD. If you don’t like it, too bad. Bob Arum has been doing this far too long and far too good. Bob Arum will feed you and you will be forced to like it. It’s like being at the dinner table with your mom and she’s force feeding you the brussels sprouts.
What’s required to get a title shot against Pacquiao? Cotto gets knocked out by Margarito and Cotto somehow gets a title shot. Hatton gets knocked out by Mayweather and earns a title shot. Margarito gets knocked out by Shane Mosley and earns a title shot. Mosley loses a lopsided fight against Mayweather and earns a title shot. Clottey loses a decision against Cotto and earns a title shot. Are you understanding the common storyline here? So as long as you have lost a previous fight substantially, you earn the right to fight the Champ. Huh? What? How does a lightweight get a shot at the belt over qualified Welterweights anyway? None of the top 10 welterweights are even in the discussion. Victor Ortiz isn’t getting any calls from Arum. Andre Berto hasn’t recieved any calls either. There are four other welterweights who are undefeated and they better not hold their breath waiting for a call. Guys named Senchenko, Brooks, Ayedin and Jones. All undefeated young welterweights that aren’t even in the Pacquiao discussion. I could even name lightweights that were more qualified than Marquez. Fighters like Amir Kahn, Devon Alexander and Tim Bradley. When was the last time Manny has fought a guy in his prime? Or a guy in his 20s? Arum wants one thing, and that is to keep his guy winning. Fight fighters that are in their 30s, fighters that have shown flaws Manny can expose, and big enough names to draw interest. He’s not looking to find out who the best fighter in the world is. He doesn’t want the best to fight the best. This isn’t football, baseball or basketball where the best teams will play for the ring. This is prize fighting. What will make money? A Manny loss certainly won’t. So what is Manny losing? Credibility.
What’s next for Manny? Well, after watching the fight Saturday, Arum probably wants no part of Mayweather yet. He has a few fights left in his cash cow before that. He could squeeze the public for one more Marquez fight. A fight that will be just like the other three. The fight will go to another decision and his fighter will win that decision. He can pocket another 50 million, and leave his fighter relatively safe against what will then be a 39-year-old fighter. The build up for the Cotto vs. Margarito fight could open the door for the winner of that fight to get a rematch against Pacquiao. A fight that his fighter has already won decisively against both men. When Pacquiao shows some signs of decline and when Arum has his next thoroughbred in the stalls then you will see a legitimate fighter for Manny. Until then, don’t expect the Mayweather fight, and Ortiz, Berto and Kahn better be ready to sign with Top Rank if they expect a shot. You don’t like it, but you have no choice. So boxing fans, close your eyes, plug your nose and open wide. We love Pacquiao, so we will continue to eat what Arum serves us.