Manny Pacquiao returns. But, who really even knows?
By: Ed Hitchins
During fight week in Las Vegas, the twitter-verse is usually abuzz with the details of the compelling action as fans file in to take in a piece of history.
From hashtags to Instagram updates, we’re usually in the foray without having ever set foot in Sin City. Crowd shots, weigh-in videos and the like dominate updates concluding with finally, the match Saturday night.
This week, however one might find social media in Vegas more quiet than a high school study hall. While hashtags are still focusing on the events on Saturday night, they come from posts such as Montreal, New York and Japan; these posts tend to focus on the fight without actually being in the location.
What’s that? You don’t know what’s happening on Saturday? You’re joking. You mean to tell me Manny Pacquiao is fighting Saturday – this Saturday – And somehow you….didn’t…know?
When we last saw Pacquiao, the 8-division world champion and sure 1st ballot hall of famer, he was finishing his trilogy with Timothy Bradley.
He had said drenched in sweat and fresh off a unanimous decision victory, that “Yes. I am retired. I want to go home with my family and serve my people.”
That was the bang Pacquiao should have gone out with. Yet, 7 months later, here he is: fighting Jessie Vargas in a match for the WBO welterweight strap that Pacquiao coveted and held for so long.
Pacquiao offered a formulaic answer when asked during the build-up.
“I want to prove that I am still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters. I feel I still have a lot to prove. I am not done with boxing. I will continue to keep fighting as long as I love boxing and boxing still loves me. I do not feel old. I feel like I am still 27,” said Pacquiao.
While there may be some truth to that answer, the endless speculation of whether Pacquiao will get a rematch with Floyd Mayweather inevitably fans the flames of his motivation.
While he may crave that opportunity, it isn’t like the public is sharing that opinion:
3 out of Pacquiao’s last 4 fights (Rios, and the 2 Bradley contests) average around 400,000 buys. While still respectable it’s clear that the “fight of the century” failed to produce any fireworks and that caused irreprehensible damage to the casual fan base.
Add to that, his commentary about homosexuality may have helped his election victory in the Philippines, but caused damage to his brand on North American shores.
Bigger fights such as Kovalev/Ward are on the horizon. The HBO locomotive that produced gargantuan PPV mega-cards for Pacquiao left in the wake of the aforementioned comments about the LGBT community.
Simply put, Pacquiao has been left in the cold.
While it won’t necessarily be the disaster that was Mosley vs. Mayorga, an independently run and produced card by Top Rank isn’t turning any heads.
The undercard has a co-feature featuring Nonito Donaire, another Filipino fighter whos star has since faded, versus up and coming prospect Jessie Magdaleno.
While 400,000 buys looks realistic, it’s just sad that Pacquiao has to soldier on with a career and try to go onto goals that he’s already accomplished.
Pacquiao should have gone out with a bang. Instead, just like his opponent Jessie Vargas, he’ll go out with a fizzle instead of a blast.