Back to the Future with Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas
By Ivan G. Goldman
In a world teeming with excellent welterweights, we wake up just about every year to the same old match-up of Timothy Bradley versus Manny Pacquiao. Will this never end? Will they battle on and on like doomed ageless warriors in a demented sci-fi flick?
Won’t someone step up to release them and us from this bend in the time-space continuum?
When Bradley won a ridiculous split decision over Pacquiao in their first bout almost four years ago, promoter Bob Arum described the foolish scorecards as a “death knell” for the sport. Yet that didn’t prevent him from promoting a second and now a third contest, which comes at us this Saturday night on HBO pay-per-view.
Everyone connected to the promotion acts like it’s an event surrounded by unparalleled drama, but when the microphones and cameras are gone everyone – and I mean everyone – understands Pacquiao prevailed in both previous contests. In terms of entertainment they were acceptable, certainly not thrilling.
Arum, who’s promoting this fight because he seems to be out of good ideas, hired respected boxing voice Bill Dwyre to write a series of pre-fight articles that are being emailed all around the fight community. Dwyre, now retired, used to run the sports section at the L.A. Times.
From time to time he falls back on the fact that both these fighters happen to be trained by celebrities – Teddy Atlas in Bradley’s corner and of course Freddie Roach in Pacquiao’s. The latter is a storied fighter/trainer combination known around the world. Atlas versus Roach creates a kind of reality TV programming atmosphere.
What goes unmentioned in publicity materials is that in his previous outing Pacquiao screwed all the paying customers by participating with a serious injury that he and his team covered up as long as they could. They clearly feared to jeopardize an astronomical payday for at long last facing Floyd Mayweather.
Previously Philippines Congressman Pacquiao had an almost sacred bond with fans. His Number One goal, he said repeatedly, was to entertain them with good fights. But if that ever was his mission, he discarded it like a wad of chewed-up gum when faced with the prospect of losing a $100 million purse. So he climbed into the ring injured and fought like it.
Mayweather, as is his wont, never really pressed him so the biggest-money fight in history was a terrible dud, a bomb, a failure, flop, a catastrophe, bogus. But not for the folks who shared the booty.
Afterward Mayweather jogged through a 49th victory – also on PPV — over Andre Berto and hung up his gloves. Meanwhile legendary Pacquiao, who turned 37 four months ago, soldiers on. Beloved by Filipino fans, he’s apparently been guaranteed $20 million. Isn’t 37 rather old for a welterweight? Especially one who’s been through so many wars as he notched up a record of 57-6-2, 38 KOs? Yes.
As for Bradley, guaranteed $4 million, he’s come through fire to achieve well-earned success, but he lacks a knockout punch. If they’ll keep offering him this kind of money to fight Pacquiao, he’ll keep showing up. But will the fans? Pacquiao, once known for blazing power, has delivered only one stoppage in his last 11 outings. That was over Miguel Cotto in 2009.
Al Haymon, who presides over cash-guzzling Premiere Boxing Champions, has reached the point where he might do business with his archenemy Arum and offer up welterweights like Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman as opponents. Maybe not. But Kell Brook and Amir Khan are also out there. Khan may or may not be involved in a business relationship with inscrutable Haymon.
Arum, who’s put together another so-so undercard, predicts a PPV audience of 700,000-plus. I hope everyone who buys this fight ends up pleased with the purchase. It’s possible.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.