The days after a big boxing match are like a coastal town after a tropical storm, where there’s so much debris strewn about that it can take a long while to find everything worth finding and put it in its right place. (In this metaphor, nobody got hurt or ruined economically by the tropical storm. I know this because it’s my metaphor. If you think about it, hurricane and tornado and typhoon metaphors are so insensitive, aren’t they? We need more happy storm clouds. [via])
The debris in the case of Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez III is not only everything we’ve written here since Saturday, but yet more that we haven’t. Things like the ever-evolving stances of all the parties with a stake in what happens next, including Pacquiao, Marquez, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and their promoters; the continual examination of what went wrong for Pacquiao in his narrow and disputed win; where public opinion is falling on post-Saturday pound-for-pound king-ship; some rather astounding reported numbers about how Pacquiao-Marquez 3 performed at the box office; the latest news about whether Marquez is a cheating foot stomper — and you’ll never guess who said he didn’t notice this alleged stompage; plus some other random tidbits.
The Pacquiao-Marquez-Mayweather Nexus
I stand by what I said before and all, and it’s been exacerbated by Pacquiao’s poor performance this past weekend: I’m suffering from Pacquiao-Mayweather ED. I’m not alone. It feels totally strange to admit it. Pacquiao and Mayweather are the two best fighters in the world, and the two biggest stars and the two best men at welterweight. I should want them to fight. I do. Or did. I don’t know anymore. But it’s hard to get all worked up about what might not happen, and that might matter less in 2012 than it did in 2009 anyhow.
In the latest incarnation of what’s happening with these two, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum is more to blame for the fight not happening in 2012 — unless he’s not, because this is the latest ploy by Mayweather to set some arbitrary date where they would fight in May, without consulting Pacquiao, and really Arum and crew simply want to take some time and consider all options. Both sides have offered different explanations and no objective party has weighed in to settle the truth of it. I wouldn’t put it past Mayweather and his team to be all like, “It’s the day afer the fight and we haven’t heard a commitment from Pacquiao’s team that they want Mayweather next, so we’re moving on elsewhere and they’re to blame!”, and use the patina of effort to make Mayweather-Pacquiao to justify some other fight. And we’ve already been hearing about how Mayweather might fight in February, and how they don’t have time to wait for Pacquiao, as if they’d ever shown a hint of this kind of urgency before. And it’s hardly ideal for the purposes of trying to make a deal for Mayweather and Golden Boy Promotions to be trashing Arum left and right, knowing as they probably do that the more they trash Arum the less inclined the temperamental septuagenerian will be to make a deal with people who are trashing him. They have to know that. They do. And I don’t trust them. I don’t think they wanted the fight before; maybe they do now, suddenly, after seeing Pacquiao look so terrible, but maybe they just want an excuse to say, “See, we tried, Pacquiao and his team didn’t want it, we’re now gonna fight Boxer X and it’s not our fault, promise promise!”
Everyone in Pacquiao’s crew has a different view of what Pacquaio should do next. Mostly, everyone agrees that it’ll be up to Pacquiao. Could you blame Pacquiao for wanting to settle things once and for all with Marquez before moving on to Mayweather? I couldn’t, at least not totally, and especially, as we’ll discuss in a moment, if he’s going to do earth-shattering numbers along the way. I couldn’t even blame him or his team at this point too much for wanting to keep him away from Mayweather. Oh, make no mistake, it wouldn’t be the bravest move. But there’s nobody in Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.’s camp saying, “We should try to take on middleweight champion Sergio Martinez!” outside of Chavez, Jr., himself, because you can see it coming from a million miles a way: It’s a fight that makes decent cash, but that Chavez loses 100 times out of 100. If Pacquiao and his crew say, “Nah, we don’t need the grief from Mayweather’s side about percentage splits and rigorous drug testing and being called a ‘faggot’ and God knows what else, just to make $y when we could make a little >$y vs. somebody more beatable.” Like I said, it ain’t brave, but it ain’t stupid, either. Back in 2009, Mayweather-Pacquiao looked like an even money fight to me. I suspect that’s what made Mayweather dislike the idea. Now, to me, it looks like a 70-30 fight. And I think now that’s why — if it’s sincere — you’re hearing such urgent “must do it now now now” rhetoric from Mayweather, assuming they mean it this time.
But, nominally, Arum is more to blame for Pacquiao-Mayweather not happening right this second, if he’s more interested in Pacquiao-Marquez IV first. Marquez recognizes his bargaining strength and is asking for all sorts of big things, knowing that if he turns the fight down Pacquiao has little other direction to go than to try to make a Mayweather fight — which, candidly, he and his crew could sort of pretend to try to make and find some stupid Mayweather demand to use as the line in the sand they won’t cross — or move on to a far less desirable opponent, like Timothy Bradley.
It’s possible, it really is, for a normal human being to stop caring about the thing they once wanted most. Circumstances change. I once wanted Pacquiao-Mayweather more than anything. There are a lot of people who once wanted an NBA labor deal more than anything else. Some of those people will move on, cynical about all the false glimmers of a deal. Some won’t. I’m at the point of not caring much at all what happens between Pacquiao-Mayweather. It’s not a fight I think is as competitive as I once imagined, I’m tired of the back and forth, and I don’t believe that anybody on either side really wants it that bad — and if anybody does, I’m suspicious of their motives for saying they do. When a deal happens, if it happens (and the past two-going-on-three years suggest that it probably won’t), I might feel differently.
The Pacquiao-Marquez 3 Box Office
The complications for Pacquiao-Mayweather are about half in the zone of “good problem to have.” Kevin Iole is a most reliable source of information about pay-per-view figures before they’re officially announced — nine times out of 10, he’s right on the money, and the other time he’s in the ballpark. So when he said he was hearing Pacquiao-Marquez 3 might have done 1.5 million buys, my tongue unrolled out of my mouth and hit the floor. If it got there, it would be bigger than any heavyweight fight other than Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya. If it came up short, it would still be several hundred thousand buys above what I expected. Beforehand, Pacquiao-Marquez 3 didn’t excite me, and I wasn’t alone. But anticipating how well any given PPV will do is increasingly like voodoo mixed with blind-folded archery.
South of the border, the figures were even more astounding. The fight generated the biggest-ever ratings for a boxing match in Mexico. We’re talking bigger than anything Julio Cesar Chavez did, bigger than anything heir apparent (literally and figuratively) mega-stars Chavez, Jr. and Saul Alvarez have done, bigger than Antonio Magarito did against Pacquiao. Remember when, not so long ago, Marquez was viewed as a distant third in the hearts of Mexican fans among the trio of himself, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera? That talk has to be abolished now. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving boxer, either. It’s great to see such a wonderful fighter, such a true professional, embraced by his people after spending so long out in the cold.
And live in Las Vegas, the fight also put up big, big numbers.
Let’s wait and see how the PPV buy figure plays out before arriving at any pseudo-scientific conclusions about all of this in toto, but those conclusions could be quite meaningful. The more money Pacquiao and/or Mayweather can make fighting someone other than each other, the less likely they are to fight.
Training And Distractions For Pacquiao
We’ve heard a lot more from Pacquiao’s team, particularly trainer Freddie Roach, about how distracted Pacquiao was for this fight, and how he overtrained. Roach and strength coach Alex Ariza have gotten a lot of credit over the years for how they’ve turned Pacquiao into a monster. If his training hasn’t been handled properly, they also are at least somewhat to blame for how poor his training regimen was for this fight. If there were distractions in this camp that affected him, they must have been far, far worse than all the usual distractions that affected Pacquiao, or else he’s gotten more sensitive to them.
It is crazy to me — just crazy — that Ariza could come out of Pacquiao’s last fight with Shane Mosley saying he overtrained, then talk all during this camp about how great Pacquiao trained, then say afterward that Pacquiao didn’t do everything he asked of him, then have Roach say that Pacquiao overtrained for this fight. Not all of those things can be true at the same time. Somebody’s lying, maybe more than once, and somebody’s looking out for his own skin more than that of Pacquiao. I nominated Ariza, but it’s purely based on how willing he is to criticize fighters when things go well for them and take credit when things go well for them, compared to behaviors by Pacquiao and Roach. But we can’t know for sure.
Mainly, it just needs to be said. Nobody — Pacquiao, Roach, Ariza — was happy with the preparation for this fight, after the fact. Somebody — maybe multiple people — are to blame for it. The harmony in Pacquiao’s camp is in rough shape. The extracurricular distractions he’s faced in the past haven’t usually been enough to disrupt that preparation. But there’s a finger or two to point for things that have gone wrong for Paquiao in his last few fights.
Cheating Foot Stomper Update, And Other Random Tidbits
Considering the sheer volume of fact-denying hallucinations in the comments section of my post on whether Marquez was trying to cheat his way to victory by stepping on Pacquiao’s feet, I doubt this additional bit of information is inclined to turn this post into anything other than a magnet for insanity, either. But the debunking quest must continue! I’m going to say it anyway: Pacquiao himself didn’t notice his feet being stepped upon. So to those of you who keep trying to advance this as some kind of major storyline, I say unto you — not only has the very trainer of the person you’re trying to defend said it didn’t matter, but it mattered so little to Pacquiao that he didn’t even feel it. Move along, already. You’re embarrassing yourselves…
Ring Magazine stuck with Pacquiao as the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. ESPN’s Dan Rafael went with Floyd Mayweather, but said half of the people he heard from praised him and the other half condemned him. Iole said he’ll publish his new pound-for-pound list Friday, but said things were running neck and neck among writers polled. I’m on the record of sticking with Pacquiao, but reluctantly. I do think that with his performance, Pacquiao opened the door to Mayweather in a way that would have been harder to imagine before. And if you’re the kind of writer who says, “Who cares?” in every single story, blog post or tweet, I’d answer, “A lot of us do — some folk actually are interested in debating who’s the best at anything in any walk of life and making lists about it, including boxing. If YOU don’t care, why do you spend more time putting down the concept than most people do actually compiling P4P standings?”…
Naazim Richardson, Mosley’s trainer, has been trying to take credit for Marquez’ success against Pacquiao. He and Shane laid the blueprint, he said. Um, no. Marquez already knew how to fight Pacquiao, as evidenced by the first two fights that happened before the idea of Pacquiao fighting Mosley was anything other than a pipe dream; anyone with a brain knows what direction you move against a southpaw; anyone who’s watched Pacquiao over his career knows that he struggles with counterpunching and people moving backward; and what Marquez did, overall, was about 100 times as effective as anything Mosley did, because Mosley caught a one-sided defeat and Marquez nearly won….
This New York Times piece about the sad Pacquiao locker room was beautifully written. If you haven’t seen it by now, take the time.