By Ivan G. Goldman
Has it really come to this? That Floyd Mayweather is making better fights than Manny Pacquiao?
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
We now have Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, saying he’ll offer the winner of Saturday’s Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado contest a match against the Philippines congressman.
Of course the twelve or thirteen people on the planet who want to see a fifth bout between Marquez and Pacquiao are entitled to their opinion, but I wouldn’t want to try putting lipstick on that pig.
The best part of Arum’s suggestion is the fact that it’s unlikely Marquez would accept the match anyway. He loves the way the fourth one ended and dearly wants the public to remember Pacquiao’s flattened, unconscious form as the defining moment of their rivalry. That last moment of round six of Bout Four is also what fans remember most about Marquez’s 20-year career, and who can blame him for not wishing to tamper with it?
Now, what if Alvarado wins? He is, after all favored to defeat his 40-year-old opponent. A Pacquiao-Alvarado contest wouldn’t necessarily be a poor option if it were offered up for free and if Pacquiao took another fight shortly afterward. But those are both unlikely scenarios.
Pacquiao hasn’t fought more than twice a year since back in 2006. Like Mayweather, he’s learned that by paring down on the number of his outings he keeps demand to see him relatively high while simultaneously cutting down on his physical wear and tear. If he takes on Alvarado next he won’t fight again for another six months afterward. You can bet on it. And an Alvarado fight would be on PPV. Pacquiao doesn’t fight any other way.
It’s hard not to like Alvarado. He comes to fight. But I like quite a number of people. That doesn’t mean I want to pay seventy or seventy-five bucks to see them on TV. Alvarado, 34-2 (23 KOs), has lost two of his last three. If he does a bang-up job against aging Marquez, that would certainly sharpen his profile, but not necessarily place him in the rarefied territory of pay-per-view.
We’ve learned time and again that just because we’re charged extra to see a fight on television, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a good one. The correlation just isn’t there.
The welterweight picture would be much brighter if fighters could move back and forth between Showtime and HBO without running into contractual disputes. The war between those networks — the first allied with Golden Boy Promotions, the second with Arum’s Top Rank Promotions — is strangling at least parts of the sport, particularly in the welterweight division.
Create an opportunity for Pacquiao to compete against, say, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter or Marcos Maidana – not necessarily on pay-per-view – and there’s excitement potential. Or what about Mayweather versus Timothy Bradley?
Mayweather’s next opponent won’t be known for months. It could be Maidana again, and he may already have made his decision, but he likes to keep fans guessing. Sometimes he asks them to follow a false trail. He once promised, for example, to let fans decide between Maidana and Amir Khan for his next opponent. Also, he’s no more likely to take on Thurman or Porter than Pacquiao is, although nothing stands in his way.
Oscar De La Hoya has, to his credit, been trying to reopen Golden Boy channels to Arum in order to “make these fights for the fans,” as he said in his Christmas tweet to Arum. Most of us wish him well on this campaign.
` Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in 2013 by Potomac Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. It can be purchased here.