Monday, June 11, 2012 at 6:09 AM
If you are one of the suckers who paid big bucks to watch Saturday’s WBO Welterweight fight in Las Vegas between champion Manny Pacquiao and challenger Timothy Bradley, I hope you realize that you bought into a spectacle that has more in common with reality TV than real sport.
That said, by all accounts, Pacquiao won the fight. But the judges awarded it to Bradley in a split decision, handing Pacquiao (53-3) his first defeat in seven years and leaving Bradley (29-0) still undefeated.
Virtually every reporter at ringside had scored it clearly for Pacquiao. HBO’s resident judge Harold Lederman scored it 119-109 in favor of Pacquiao. In an informal survey of boxing writers, all had Pacquiao comfortably ahead.
(Detroit Free Press, June 10, 2012)
But the rigging of Boxing matches enjoys such cognitive dissonance that, for me, media reports on this fight are noteworthy not for what the judges did, but for what the promoter said:
Promoter Bob Arum fumed, the crowd at the MGM Grand arena booed, and Pacquiao seemed stunned when the decision was announced. Arum said there would be a November rematch, though he blasted the way the decision went down.
‘Something like this is so outlandish, it’s a death knell for the sport. This is fucking nuts. I have both guys, and I’ll make a lot of money in the rematch, but it’s ridiculous. You have these old fucks who don’t know what the hell they’re looking at. It’s incompetence. Nobody who knows anything about boxing could have Bradley ahead in the fight.’ said Arum, who handles both fighters.
(Associated Press, June 10, 2012)
Wink, wink…. It’s elementary folks, the more controversy Arum incites over the decision in this fight, the more demand he creates for a rematch.
But it’s one thing for this P.T. Barnum of Boxing to feign outrage while boasting about laughing all the way to the bank. It’s quite another for the AP to report it without at least citing the cynicism inherent in Arum’s self-promoting remarks.
To be fair, though, one does not have to be a mind reader to get what this shameless huckster really has in mind, namely: a trilogy of high-paying fights between Bradley and Pacquiao with such hype going into the third fight that it would make the hype before The Thrilla in Manilla, the third (and most-famous) fight between Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier, seem positively genteel.
That Arum already had a date set – complete with posters made – for Bradley vs. Pacquiao 2 even before their first fight betrays his venal intent. What’s more, you can just imagine how he pitched this three-fight fix to both fighters months ago (remember, as the AP blithely reports, he “handles” both of them):
Okay Manny, you’re the champ and you ain’t lost a fight in seven years. But it ain’t like you’re gonna break Rocky Marciano’s record of 49-0. You already lost two fights. And you, Timmy Boy, you got a good thing goin’ here with your 29-0 record. But we both know that in a straight-up fight Manny will beat the shit outta you.
So here’s what we’re gonna do: We’re gonna have three fights; the first one Timmy will win by a split decision to build up interest for the second. But for that first fight Manny, you’re gonna be guaranteed $26 million, plus a percentage of the pay-per-view loot which could double that. And Timmy, you’ll be guaranteed $5 million, which will be the biggest pay day of your goddamn career baby!
But here’s where it gets good: Within six months we’ll have a rematch, and this time Manny will win by a split decision and you’ll both be guaranteed at least $40 million plus. The fans will then be so hooked they’ll be begging for that third match the way junkies beg for their next fix. And trust me, they’ll pay anything to see it.
So within six months after that second fight, we’ll give them their fix – the third match. Manny will win, but you’ll both be guaranteed over $50 million plus. But look here Manny, you’ll be 34; that’s the ideal age to get outta this game. You’re a part-time congressman in Manilla, but you go full time into politics and by the time you’re 40 you can become president of the Philippines where you’re already a fucking national hero. That would leave our 28-year-old Timmy Boy here to take on that loud mouth Mayweather….
And trust me, if that equally shameless huckster Donald Trump can induce (i.e., bribe) 15 judges to rig his beauty pageant according to his whim, Arum can easily do the same with 3 judges for a prize fight he promotes.
Nobody used to be a bigger boxing fan than I. But when Mike Tyson and others turned it into a spectacle that rivals professional wrestling, I tuned out.
Apropos of this, here, in part, is what I wrote two years ago when Arum created a spectacle of his own by claiming that Pacquiao is the best fighter he’d ever seen. I suspect you’ll agree that what I wrote back then presaged what unfolded last night:
I too have seen all of the great champions that Arum dismisses as mere contenders, and I have yet to see any fighter display the combination of power, speed, and style (or poetry in motion) that Muhammad Ali did in his prime…
For the sake of argument, however, in a match between both fighters in their prime, I doubt even Arum would deny that Ali would put even more of a beating on Pacquiao than Pacquiao put on Margarito on Saturday night…
But nothing demonstrates how unworthy Pacquiao is of Arum’s praise than the fact that he has done everything possible to avoid getting into the ring with the man generally regarded as ‘the best pound-for-pound fighter’ in the world today, Floyd Mayweather Jr. …
Finally, if none of my arguments convince you that Arum’s contention is bullshit, just bear in mind that he’s Pacquiao’s fight promoter. And, as any promoter knows, hype – no matter how absurd – sells.
(“Pacquiao – the Best Fighter Ever?!,” The iPINIONS Journal, November 18, 2012)
Alas, the gate and pay-per-view receipts for last night’s fight will undoubtedly show that there really is a sucker born every minute.
So here’s to Bradley vs. Pacquiao 2. And as for that third fight, don’t be surprised if Arum stages it on Pacquiao’s home turf to emulate the Ali vs. Frazier trilogy in every respect.
I just hope these guys don’t end up feeling about Arum – who appears to be helping them pocket tens of millions, the way Mike Tyson ended up feeling about his promoter, Don King – who appeared to be helping him pocket hundreds of millions … but who Tyson later sued for the $100 million King allegedly skimmed off his earnings:
[King is] a wretched, slimy, reptilian motherfucker. This is supposed to be my ‘black brother’ right? He’s just a bad man, a real bad man. He would kill his own mother for a dollar. He’s ruthless, he’s deplorable, he’s greedy, and he doesn’t know how to love anybody.
(‘Tyson’ the documentary, 2008)
Pacquiao – the best fighter ever?!
* This commentary was published originally yesterday, Sunday, at 5:29 pm