Now that Pacquiao-Mayweather is smithereens, it might be interesting to sift through the rubble. Then again, it might not. What follows is a rundown on a few peripheral angles on the disaster.
Trying to keep up with the story itself was a chore, since thousands of outlets–of varying degrees of worth–were chiming in on the fiasco simultaneously. The best coverage of the strange happenings of the last three weeks was provided by Kevin Iole, Dan Rafael, Lem Satterfield, and Lance Pugmire at The Los Angeles Times. On the blogging side, Bad Left Hook and The Queensberry Rules both made the decision, rightly so, to keep above the fray and offer frequent summaries of the mercurial events. One source that deserves special mention is Scoop Malinowski. From the very beginning, Malinowski, of Boxing Insider, was adamant that the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout would not occur and he was right. (FULL DISCLOSURE: I also write occasionally for BoxingInsider.com. See? Is that so hard RingTV?) At one point, in fact, Malinowski went so far as to guarantee that the fight would implode. The Cruelest Sport only hinted that the fight would not come off in “The Ego is Always At the Wheel,” but Malinowski is probably the only writer who had the chutzpah to go on record over and over concerning the dead end Pacquiao-Mayweather would hurtle into. He deserves credit for not being wishy-washy.
Nearly everything else belonged in the fringe theory category, with rumors, screeds, red herrings, pasquinades, slander, hyperbole, and mixed metaphors the norm. Michael Marley was funny and the lamentable Lyle Fitzsimmons, who recently referred to himself as a “major” boxing writer, was, as can be imagined, lamentable. RingTV was strangely absent from the whole affair, posting official statements from both sides of the negotiations and a few uninformative op-pieces by Michael Rosenthal. Curiously enough, Rosenthal did not mention “Golden Boy Promotions” until January 4th, when the crisis was nearly over and done with. How is it possible to write three pieces on the biggest story of the year and not mention one of the main players–GBP–involved in it? Twice, Rosenthal mentioned that Pacquiao was suing “Mayweather & Co.” No doubt this has no significance at all over at sanctimonious RingTV, where Doug Fischer routinely lambastes his “peers.”
As expected, the names being bandied about for Floyd Mayweather Jr. are farcical: Matthew Hatton, Paulie Malignaggi, Nate Campbell, and Kermit Cintron. Cintron is a legitimate contender, but is unlikely to make the cut due to his relative anonymity. Malignaggi at least pulls down decent ratings on HBO and is a skilled boxer. He also has a personality almost as toxic as that of Mayweather. Campbell is a GBP fighter, but, at 37, is not only too small but too old to pose a threat. Hatton is, to put it mildly, a no-hoper, and it is impossible to shake the feeling that Mayweather is relieved to go from exchanging blows with Pacquiao to the possibility of playing patty cake against the likes of Malignaggi and Hatton. Once again Pacquiao, by choosing to fight dangerous Joshua Clottey, outshines Mayweather where it counts most–in the ring. Accusations of steroid use may have sullied his reputation somewhat, but Pacquiao went right out and undermined Mayweather again by choosing one of the toughest welterweights in the world to fight instead of handpicking another mediocre opponent. Touché!
Poor Yuri Foreman missed out on the boxing equivalent of winning the Powerball lottery–a seven-digit jackpot payday against Manny Pacquiao. When Pacquiao decided that Foreman, as a 5’11 junior middleweight, was just too big to tangle with, Foreman watched millions of dollars slip through his fingers like grains of sand. (Pacquiao might also have realized that it would be a poor PR move to rise to another weight class with all the talk of steroid use swirling in the air. If so, he was one step ahead of his promoter, Bob Arum, who sounded disappointed when Pacquiao turned down a fight with Foreman.) Now Foreman, maligned by the same folks who puff up Chad Dawson and who thought Roman Karmazin-Dionisio Miranda was “pulsating,” can all exhale in mock relief. This kind of thing is almost always a question of confusing the medium with the message. Chad Dawson boring thousands on HBO (not millions; few casual boxing fans are interested in seeing Dawson perform arabesques) for grotesque amounts of loot is somehow just ducky; Foreman doing the same on MSG and Versus for a fraction of what Dawson earns, on the other hand, is somehow unpleasant. For some reason, the HBO brand–so watered down over the years that clubfighters and outright stiffs now appear on the network regularly–adds legitimacy to mismatches, cynical catchweight sparring sessions, and uninspiring fighters. The reverse should be the case, but this is boxing after all. Although Foreman has fought better opposition than Andre Berto and Alfredo Angulo, the aspiring rabbinical student continues to be an object of ridicule to those who believe it is better to bowl over tomato cans on HBO than to pay your dues. Foreman has fought Anthony Thompson, Andrey Tsurkan, Cornelius Bundrage, Saul Roman, Jose Soto Karass, and James Moore. All right, so maybe that pales in comparison to Brian Vera and Cosme Rivera, but his biggest paycheck to date, earned against long time contender Daniel Santos, was only about $40,000. Compare that to the kind of serious bread other dull fighters get for smacking around Harry Yorgey, Brian Minto, and full-time policemen.
According to various reports, “the smartest man in boxing,” Richard Schaefer, is determined to keep a March 13th date for Floyd Mayweather and will go head-to-head with the Manny Pacquiao-Joshua Clottey fight. Schaefer is probably the type who smokes cigarettes at gas stations. Or is he? Competing with Pacquiao that night might seem like a self-destructive move, but when you consider the fact that Golden Boy Promotions gets a cut of every Manny Pacquiao fight, it almost makes sense. GBP has “insurance” against a poor showing by Mayweather and this safety net will be provided by none other than Bob Arum, the despised competitor. Even for boxing, where revenge, deceit, fraud, corruption, and amorality are standard procedure, this maneuver would rank high on the Richter scale of malevolence. In the end, however, the only real loser in this whole affair is, surprise, surprise, the fan. Remember that when you read part of the official GBP mission statement: “Golden Boy Promotions strives to become the leading Boxing Promotional Company through integrity, honesty, hard work and determination.” Please, stop laughing.
Every time some disaster befalls boxing, the “Black Eye” cliché mongers roll over and flip open their laptops to lament another crushing blow boxing will suffer. (This is particularly true of general sports columnists who never pay attention to boxing until some sort of scandal occurs. This is completely different than 90 percent of the day-to-day boxing media, which never pays attention at all.) Simply put, the handwringing over how Bloodgate will cripple boxing is overstated. Boxing survived being illegal across most of the United States during the early 20th century; it survived the Don King-ABC-Ring Magazine scandal; it survived Owney Madden, Waxey Gordon, Blinky Palermo, and Frankie Carbo; it survived corrupt sanctioning bodies and splintered titles; and it survived when network television threw it under the bus in the 1990s. Boxing, like roaches that become immune to different strains of Black Flag after a while, will survive this as well.