RIP, Nelson Mandela, world leader and pugilist/boxing aficionado. (per Deadspin).
In a long overdue combined edition of Quick Jabs/Round And Round, we contemplate the Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios pay-per-view numbers, a provocative interview or two, what's next for Carl Froch and some other news items/fights in the works.
There are any number of conceivable, non-exclusive explanations for why Pacquiao's welterweight fight with Brandon Rios didn't do very big pay-per-view figures (less than 500,000, his worst since 2008): Both men were coming off losses; Rios was largely unknown to the general public and a middling draw even among hardcores; Rios was perceived by many as non-competitive; etc. The one HBO has settled on as the main reason is the one where the fight being in China is to blame. I don't doubt that a foreign pay-per-view tends to do more poorly, for reasons that make sense as Mark Taffet of HBO PPV explained them. But it's also surely the answer HBO hopes is the big reason, because the very real possibility that Pacquiao is done as a surefire PPV attraction is a far more depressing prospect for the network after losing Floyd Mayweather to Showtime. You can lose and still be a PPV attraction; but if you lose two in a row, one brutally, it's bound to take some spring out of your financial step. I'm of the mind that Pacquiao can still do good PPV numbers with the right opponent, but he's been permanently damaged as a U.S. PPV attraction as a result of the losses, or at least indefinitely. It's funny, in a way — the big question coming into Pacquiao-Rios was whether he was done as a fighter, and it might turn out that we found out he was done as a box office superstar…
What's rough about that for Pacquiao is that it's increasingly looking as though he needs the money. He had to borrow money to pay for promised typhoon aid to the Philippines, and maybe his accounts were frozen on a questionable basis, given that the tax authorities in the Philippines think he owes $50 million when he claims he paid those taxes in the United States. But some of this hints at broader financial problems. Why would the tax authorities in the Philippines be waiting for Pacquiao to hand over the IRS forms for two years unless they're lying about the timing of the request, or else he's been irresponsible in taking care of his paperwork for no good reason, or else he didn't pay as much in the U.S. as claimed? Because at least one outlet notes the IRS wants some millions from Pacquiao too. Hey, it could be he has everything in order. But there's been talk for years about how poorly he manages his money and how much of a slice Top Rank takes from him. I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out he was selling off some property and a car and the like because he's in dire straits…
All the latest jousting between Top Rank and Golden Boy over Mayweather-Pacquiao is the usual disingenuous bullshit, best ignored. Before the fight, it was Top Rank talking up a Mayweather fight when they didn't mean it. Now, with Pacquiao having booked a date for his next fight, it's Golden Boy griping that Top Rank doesn't want a Mayweather fight — when Golden Boy had no intention of pursuing it, had long ago essentially booked Amir Khan next for Mayweather, wasn't going to reach out to hated nemesis Top Rank for anything let alone this fight well past its "best by" date, and knows full well how nearly impossible a deal would be for any endless number of other reasons…
Enough of those two. The latest Hall of Fame class has some pretty big names, with Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad and Joe Calzaghe leading off. All three deserve to be there, not that I have a say. I've seen no convincing arguments for keeping them out…
The trainer of super middleweight champion Andre Ward, Virgil Hunter, recently served up a series of interviews that were provocative, if nothing else. I didn't agree with his every word in them. I do agree that Victor Conte and Edwin Rodriguez could've handled the request for Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency testing better, and I agree that there's a certain writer who is creepily obsessed with Ward — like, obsessed, all-caps, of the "daily critical tweets that sometimes number in the dozens" variety. I still think Ward needs to get to advanced testing sooner than later and that if he really is interested it'll be quite easy to manage for his very next fight, and I do think that some of Ward's media problems are of his own making and there's nothing wrong with Dan Rafael talking about how much money Ward makes. Also, Paulie Malignaggi recently re-upped his own media criticisms, and I feel the same about them as I did the first time, basically, and similarly to how I feel about what Hunter had to say — there's some truth in there, but also I don't agree with all of it, and he still hasn't looked closely enough in the mirror about his own actions. He wasn't made to answer any questions about the gift decision he got from Pablo Cesar Cano in that interview, apparently, and seems to think that writers that cover other sports don't compare, say, basketball players from past eras to basketball players of this era, or that somehow there are writers out there who spend more than a few minutes a year on pound-for-pound lists. But if the boxing media got a bit more aggressively investigative, as Malignaggi is suggesting, it certainly could stand to, although with his "who are you to criticize boxers!" mentality I'm guessing he wouldn't appreciate some of the outcomes…
Hate to say I told you so, Paul Spadafora. A lot of folk are making hay over the "Rocky Marciano curse," where a fighter closing in on his 49-0 record suddenly lose. Happened to Chris John Friday. I'm not convinced of it, but then, I'm right on the verge of my 49th word in this paragraph, and [HIT BY TRUCK]
Round And Round
So yeah, it's Amir Khan for Mayweather next, by all accounts. Remember when the whole lot of them were denying anything was happening? Me too!
Miguel Cotto, now he has as pretty big choice to make. The junior middleweight has been offered $10 million to face Saul "Canelo" Alvarez by Showtime and Golden Boy. He has been offered something to face middleweight champion Sergio Martinez on HBO, but Martinez's team and Top Rank's Bob Arum have denied it's the reported $15 million. Both figures are obscene. But I suppose if anyone deserves it, it's Cotto, still a big draw and pay-per-view fuel.
After saying he'd be down for a George Groves rematch, super middleweight Carl Froch is now saying he's not interested. Bummer. His team has instead talked about fighting in the States, in a rematch with champion Andre Ward, or Gennady Golovkin, or Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Those are all nice fights but Groves is the most attractive opponent for Froch. Golovkin is booking a stay-busy fight in the interim in February against Osumanu Adama, off HBO. It's a respectable stay-busy opponent; Adama hasn't been stopped in losses to Don George, Daniel Geale and Dyah Davis (he was said to have given Geale a tough fight; I can't recall having watched the bout myself) and has beaten Grady Brewer and Roman Karmazin.
Ruslan Provodnikov's team wants a piece of Juan Manuel Marquez. I like the fight. Marquez is at his best against guys like Provodnikov, although he showed possible signs of slippage in his last bout, a welterweight tilt with Timothy Bradley. It would also give Provodnikov a chance to beat his biggest-name opponent to date. It'll all depend on Marquez's prickly ass, since he says he won't fight Pacquiao again and is demanding terms for a Bradley rematch that Bradley doesn't need to accept if he doesn't feel like it.
Lamong Peterson vs. Dierry Jean is coming to my hood of Washington, D.C. It'll be interesting to see what kind of audience Peterson draws. He had a big one for his fight with Kendall Holt coming off a layoff after a positive drug test, and now he's coming off a loss to Lucas Matthysse. Peterson-Jean is actually a more interesting fight than Peterson-Jean. There's no reason for D.C. to abandon Peterson after a respectable loss if they weren't going to after a performance enhancing drug snafu, so I'm optimistic they won't.
The sanctioning outfit whose lightweight belt Ricky Burns holds is ordering a purse bid for a fight with Terrence Crawford, a bout that is not the preference of Burns' promoter. But if it happens Top Rank would hope to stage it in January on HBO, paired with the junior lightweight bout between Mikey Garcia and Juan Carlos Burgos. That would be a very solid doubleheader.
Heavyweight prospect Bryant Jennings is without an opponent for a January HBO bout after Mariusz Wach pulled out, according to Jennings' promoter Gary Shaw. I've seen no account from the Wach team about what happened. It would've been a nice match-up. Wach is tougher than anyone Jennings has yet faced. In the meantime, various heavyweights keep talking about fighting the Klitschko brothers: Cuban prospect Luis Ortiz wants a slice of champ Wladimir, but I think he needs to do a bit more first, and maybe he can do enough of it by the end of 2014; and Dereck Chisora wants another Klitschko, Wlad or a rematch with Vitali, which he's just about as deserving of as anyone else, although I have my doubts Wlad wants to get water spit in his face again.
(Round And Round sources: BoxingScene, ESPN)