By: Ronald “RC” Cameron
As far back as we can go in boxing history, there have been so many “dream” matchups that boxing fans have wanted to see. The greatest fighter to ever lace them up, Sugar Ray Robinson fought who many believe to be the second greatest fighter ever against Henry Armstrong in 1943 but this was more about Robinson helping out a guy who he looked up to. Armstrong, who was near the end of the career, told Robinson that if he respected him, fight him and let me make some money. Robinson accepted the challenge and he dominated Armstrong over 10 rounds and some boxing experts believe Robinson carried his idol during their fight. We saw the same thing happen with Joe Louis when he fought Rocky Marciano and years later, when Muhammad Ali fought the great Larry Holmes. Back then, fighters wanted to go out there and prove to the boxing public and to themselves that they wanted to be the best and in order to do that, they were willing to fight the best and it didn’t matter if those fighters were past their primes.
Let’s rewind back to mid-2009, shall we? On the same day Manny Pacquiao took on Ricky Hatton, Floyd Mayweather ended his 15 month “retirement” from the sport and announced that he would challenge Manny’s arch rival, Juan Manuel Marquez later that summer. I won’t get into the results of what happened in those fights, we all know what happened, but ever since that moment, the two best fighters in the world have been on a collision course. You would think that by now these two great fighters would have met at least once and the two camps tried to make this fight happen and the two were scheduled to fight in March of 2010 but the two could not come to terms. Floyd insisted that he wanted Manny to take random drug tests all the way leading up to the fight and Manny did not agree to those terms.
There was another opportunity to make this fight happen in the summer of 2011, but again the two could not come to terms with how often the drug tests would be administered. But what has the boxing world talking now is the fact that Floyd publicly called Manny out on his twitter account earlier this week. Here are Floyd’s comments from his twitter account: “Manny Pacquiao, I’m calling you out let’s fight and give the world what they want to see!” “My Jail Sentence was pushed back because the date was locked in. Step up Punk!”
This put the boxing world in frenzy and many fans believed that FINALLY, we might get to see the fight we have all wanted to see. But instead of doing what he could to make this fight happen, Manny’s promoter Bob Arum diffused this as only he can. Arum responded to Floyd’s comments by saying, “June 9th is perfect, May 5th is out, that’s impossible!” Now most boxing fans would not have a problem with waiting another month, but Arum left out one important thing—Floyd Mayweather is due in jail on June 1st! Arum went on to say later that a fight could happen at the end of May, that way they would have enough time to build an outdoor arena capable of holding 45,000 people. As we stand right now, there will not be a fight and to me, there is only one man to blame: Bob Arum.
Now look, I could also blame Manny as well because as brave as he has been in the ring, he’s not willing to go to his promoter and demand that he makes this fight happen at any cost. Do you think that Muhammad Ali would have had this problem when he was fighting? Ali would have told King or Arum that they do their job and make the fight happen, or else he will find another promoter. Ali understood that HE was the main draw and the one in charge, not his promoter. So absolutely, I can blame Manny for not going to Arum, but I don’t believe Manny is not willing to fight Floyd. I can only go by what I have seen in his career and Manny has never been afraid to fight anyone.
The reason why I blame Bob Arum is because he’s been a promoter for over 40 years and he has made so many GREAT fights happen on his watch and for him to drag his feet and make excuses lets me know a few things. First off, I can’t deny that Arum has a stable of good fighters. Nonito Donaire might someday replace Manny and Floyd as the best pound for pound fighter in the sport, he has Miguel Cotto and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. as well, but none of those guys can put butts in the seats quite like Manny Pacquiao can. Manny is Arum’s number one meal ticket and bargaining chip and Arum has to know that if he fights Mayweather and loses, then he will lose some of his power. Second, ever since Manny destroyed Miguel Cotto in 2009, he’s been matching Manny with “his” fighters and he has not been as willing to negotiate with other promoters. That way, Arum can pocket money from both fighters. It seems as if Arum is only out for himself and doesn’t give a crap about what boxing fans want to see.
And also, Arum has to know that as great as Manny is, he’s not ready to face Floyd Mayweather. Manny just got done fighting his arch-rival, Juan Manuel Marquez who is one of the best counter-punchers in the sport and most boxing experts (including myself) thought that Marquez did enough to win. As great as Marquez is as a counter-puncher and a fighter, Floyd Mayweather is at least a grade above Marquez when it comes to counter-punching, he’s a much better defensive fighter, he’s bigger than Manny and is just as fast. That doesn’t bode well for Manny if he were to fight Floyd and Arum knows that.
Do you know what this reminds me of? Remember in the movie Rocky 3, when Rocky was beating all of these stiffs and Clubber Lang, the number one contender was tearing up everyone? Rocky was challenged by Lang and he wanted to fight him, but his trainer, Mickey told Rocky, “This guy will kill ya to death!” “He’ll knock you into tommorrrrroooowww Rock!!!” Again, I don’t believe Manny is afraid of Floyd or vice versa, but I do believe that Arum knows that Manny can’t whip Floyd Mayweather and he’s trying to exploit Manny for as long as he can before they finally do face each other. The question is, will they ever fight and if so, will anyone care when they do?
I once compared Floyd and Manny’s reluctance to fight each other to when Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler teased us for 5 years, but this is now much different. Back then, Leonard called his own shots and while Hagler was promoted by Arum, Hagler was in charge. The reason why things are different is because Floyd is his own boss and Manny is under Arum’s thumb and does what he says. What both fighters need to realize is that while they may still be the two best fighters in the world, Father Time is undefeated and as great is both fighters are, both are not getting any younger and while I haven’t seen any signs of slipping with Floyd, Manny has not looked spectacular since he dismantled Antonio Margarito a year ago. When Leonard and Hagler did face each other in 1987, it was a good fight (And for the record, Leonard deserved to win the fight) it would have been even better had they would have fought a few years earlier. Hagler was starting to slow down and was thinking of retiring before their encounter and Leonard was coming off of a 3 year layoff. Both Floyd and Manny are not spring chickens any longer and if they continue to play musical chairs with each other each year and refuse to fight, there will be some boxing fans that will lose interest.
And for that, again I blame Bob Arum, who has been coming up with so many lame excuses as to why this fight can’t take place in May. Now I know Floyd wants this fight on his terms, but are his terms all that bad? Floyd wants to fight on May 5th, a date that he had reserved for a couple of months and now Arum wants to fight a few weeks later and in an outdoor arena? And also, before that Arum also mentioned that Manny needed more time for his cut to heal. Manny fought in November, so he’s telling the boxing world that it takes about 4-5 months for Manny’s cut to heal? What Manny needs to understand is while he’s already a first ballot Hall of Famer, if he doesn’t go to Arum and demand that he makes this fight, his legacy will not be complete. I believe Manny wants to fight Floyd, his Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach has said several times that he wants Manny to fight Floyd, so the only one who is holding this fight up is Arum and we all know why. It’s time for Manny to go to Arum and give him an ultimatum: Make this fight happen in May, or….your fired!! Manny is at a point in his career where he doesn’t need a promoter who calls the shots. He’s arguably the most popular fighter in the sport and he should be promoting himself and making his own decisions.
As things stand right now, rumor has it that Manny’s next opponent may be Miguel Cotto, the same man Manny already annihilated over 2 years ago. And to those who believe this will be any different, let’s not get fooled by what happened in Cotto’s last two fights. Cotto beat Ricardo Mayorga and Antonio Margarito, two guys who have been washed up for quite some time. Cotto looked good beating them, but there is no way he will be able to deal with Manny even if he’s showing signs of slowing down. I know, the first 3 round of their first fight was competitive, but once Manny knocked Cotto down in the 4th round for the second time in the fight, the fight was all but over. Manny dominated the fight from that moment on and Cotto got on his bicycle and tried to avoid Manny for the rest of the fight. Manny walked Cotto down and gave him a horrific beating before stopping him in the 12th and final round. Cotto hasn’t beaten anyone relevant enough to deserve another shot at Manny, but since Arum is Manny’s puppet-master, he could possibly be trying to fool boxing fans into buying this PPV. I won’t be one of those that will be fooled. I won’t buy the PPV if this is Manny’s next opponent.
There has been talk of Manny fighting three other potential opponents: Lamont Peterson, Timothy Bradley or Manny’s arch-rival, Juan Manuel Marquez. Out of all of those potential opponents, I’d personally rather see Manny fight Marquez for the 4th time for obvious reasons. I have NO interest in seeing Manny fight Bradley and not much interest in him fighting Peterson. As I stated before, Arum wants to exploit Manny as much as he can fighting guys that he believes Manny can beat and who also happen to be promoted by his company.
Now I understand Floyd can be abrasive and brash and that Floyd and Arum don’t get along and considering some of Floyd’s recent troubles I can see why many boxing fans dislike him, but Floyd is a brilliant businessman and he’s doing everything he can do to make this fight happen. Now I could not say that about him in the past, there were times before when Floyd could have done more to make the fight happen, but that’s no longer the case. The biggest hurdle was Floyd demanding that Manny takes a random drug test and boxing fans accused Floyd of ducking Manny because of his request. For the record, I’ve never believed for a second that Manny used HGH, but all he had to do was agree to take the test randomly without a 14 day window and they probably would have fought by now. But because it’s Floyd who is making these demands, his critics have a problem with it. From everything I’ve read, Manny has stated that he agrees to the random testing, so I ask the question again, what (or who) is holding up this fight?
One final comment before I go—there is no doubt that both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will be first ballot Hall of Famers when they hang up their gloves. Floyd is one of the 2-3 greatest defensive fighters of all time and Manny Pacquiao is one of the best offensive fighters to ever lace them up but in order for these guys to go down in history and really be compared to the Leonard’s, Duran’s and Hagler’s of the world, they have to stop playing tag with each other and make this fight happen. I have no doubt in my mind that Floyd is willing to do so and I believe Manny wants to fight Floyd, but this all comes down to Bob Arum. He’s abusing his power right now and while he’s making millions matching Manny up against his fighters, he’s also hurting Manny’s legacy in the process.
Memo to Bob Arum: You have done A LOT for the sport over the years, but right now you are hurting the sport by preventing this Super-fight from taking place. I talked about Manny’s and Floyd’s legacies, but your legacy will take a hit if you continue to match your fighters with each other and not with other fighters who are promoted by other guys. Right now, you’re acting like a selfish brat who doesn’t want to share his toy. If you continue to go down this path, maybe it should be time for you to take your ball and go home for good, or better yet release Manny from your death-grip. The two greatest boxing promoters of all time are Don King and yourself, but even King would have did what it took to get this fight signed by now. Swallow your pride, go to the bargaining table with Floyd’s people and make this fight happen…or go away!
Be sure to check out The Boxing Prophet Richard Solomon’s next article coming out Wednesday evening on his Top 12 Predictions of 2012