What can you say about a year which concludes with the news that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao won’t be fighting, but Evander Holyfield and Frans Botha (combined age: 88) will? Go away 2009, no one likes your style.
Back at my own computer and at home briefly, so quick thoughts on Pacquiao-Mayweather-gate:
First off, I think there’s a 99% chance the fight still happens. Both guys would leave colossal amounts of money on the table if they stepped away now, neither has a fall-back opponent who would be anything other than a massive let down, both are 30+ and for various reasons have special cause to fear the passage of time (Pac’s been in some wars, Mayweather relies on perfect timing and quickness), there’s no guarantee the public interest for this fight would be the same if they revisit this in a year, and with each interim fight taken the chance grows that a fluke picks off one man or the other and kills the fight. The moment is now and the fight is this one, and too many people involved with these negotiations on every side have made too much money in this sport to not realize this. Fight promotion is like political corruption; the money trail will take you just about everywhere you need to be.
That said, the fact that this BS was allowed to go public- or more likely, was deliberately propagated- is a collective failure which would be almost unimaginable if it weren’t arriving in the wake of several similar failures in the presentation of this fight so far. There’s three major ones, which interrelate and have several subsidiary effects:
– Timing. This could be the biggest fight of all time financially, and these guys want to cram the total promotion time into less than 3 months because someone has a political bug up his ass, or is being used as a sock puppet by political interests in the Philippines, or whatever the story is there; it hardly matters. The point is, this could be insanely lucrative on the promotional side and the defining fight of a generation on the sporting side, and it’s being half-assed and rushed so someone can valiantly lose another election. Utter bullhonkey.
– Location. Jerry Jones’s futurist-modernist-bullshit-space-station-UFO-sugar bowl-chandelieramajig was the absolute best possible place to have held this thing. An army of people would have the chance to see it live and anyone seeing a fight for the first time might come away a fan for life, the gate would be pretendous, the fact that it would draw so many people and be such an event would make it an even bigger mainstream deal which would be an engine to drive PPV buys and make up for the short promotional time, and on fight night the atmosphere would be electric and unlike anything else. It would be the capstone to boxing’s recent surge of popularity, the ultimate Fuck You to people who say the sport is dead, one of the defining sporting events of our lifetime; the sort of thing you tell your kids about. Throw in the gihugic site fee, and it was the easiest possible call to make. Instead, all reports say that it’s going to be held in another bullshit dead-atmosphere casino in Las fucking Vegas, where 15 people show up to the undercard fights and the lazy highrollers swagger and stagger into the seats their connections buy them just in time to ask who’s fighting before the main event hits the ring. Lovely. If they were going to pull this unimaginative BS they might as well have just sold the fight as a package show to some sheik who didn’t get cut in on the Man City deal and is looking for a new sporting advertisement for how large his petrodollar penis is. Fuck the MGM Grand.
– And finally, the fact that this, of all things, was allowed to be the stumbling block. If they were beefing about purse splits or glove type I could understand that, but it’s hard to think of any way they could have come up with something more damaging to fight about publicly. Let’s be honest: there isn’t anyone who’s serious about sports and pays attention to boxing who hasn’t looked at Pacquiao at some point and thought “Hmm. I Wonder.” If Pacquiao was somehow obviously and flagrantly clean then this would be more or less OK: Mayweather would come off as a lying chickenshit heel which is good for his marketability, Pacquiao would come off as the falsely accused honest babyface, and the two men would consciously or unconsciously be working one of the oldest angles in pro wrestling*. But Pacquiao isn’t flagrantly clean. I don’t know if he’s doing something, you don’t, but he’s so obviously so physically superior to almost everyone else, has improved SO much over the course of his career both in skills and athletic abilities, that in the modern age people will wonder, whether that’s fair or not. The God-awful way Pacquiao’s people have handled this as well- throwing tantrums, refusing to agree to tests, threatening to pull out of the fight apparently over THIS of all issues- hasn’t helped the public perception one iota. Pacquiao may well be totally, completely, 100% clean, and he’s entitled to a presumption of innocence; but his people are acting like guilty men, and the public will notice that when it takes place on a stage like this. This is a case where it doesn’t matter what’s right, or true, or fair to the fighters; what matters is what plays to the public, and raising chemical doubts about a guy who seems superhuman isn’t going to play well.
So what has been achieved? If Mayweather thinks he’s playing mind games, or if the two sides think they’re colluding to work an angle, they’re idiots- they’ve diluted the marketing hook for both fighters, made their face look like a potential cheat and their heel like a potential truth-teller, and probably hurt the fight as an event a bit. Just as bad, they’ve now lost more of their scant promotional time in this inane wrangling and created a haze of bad press which they’ll first have to dispel before they can even get to promoting the fight; and they’ve ensured that the press now has the hook required to ask both fighters about drugs at every press conference and interview, and write as many stories as they please from that angle between now and March. In essence, the promoters have thrown a party and put the turd in the punchbowl themselves. Well done.
Look: this fight is going to be huge when (if) it happens, and everyone involved is going to make a lot of money, and nothing is going to erase that- they could advertise an undercard of Bob Arum doing a striptease and Richard Schaeffer reading Pacquiao’s drug test results backwards in Hindi and still do 1.5 million buys for this. But that’s not the point. The point is, this has all the potential to be the biggest fight of all time financially and one of the biggest culturally and sporting wise (top-15 in each category easily, maybe top 10 for a sport which is hundreds of years old), has the potential to be something special, maybe even unique, and the people in charge are fucking it up. And because they’re insisting in getting this thing out there by March, and are insisting on doing things the old-fashioned, boring, unimaginative way- as though this were just another fight- they’re running the risk of MAKING it as close as it’s going to get to Just Another Fight. And that’s bullshit. Fans of this sport put up with a LOT, a lot in general and lot from this collection of assholes in particular, and we deserve just this once to have this thing done right because we’re only going to get one shot at this. The best thing now would be to quietly (QUIETLY) work out a drug-testing agreement, kick the fight back to June or July, call Jerry Jones, and try to get this thing back on the tracks. Do a grand announcement in late January of the new site and the official fight agreement and keep it all positive from then on, other than Floyd being ticket-selling heel Floyd.
If they keep on this way we’re potentially looking at one of the great What-Ifs of the next decade in sports, and I don’t want to think about what happens if that 1% chance comes up and the fight doesn’t happen. We’ll start that mob when we come to it.
EDIT: And so we’re clear, I’m not saying Pacquiao is a drug cheat; he’s passed all his tests and deserves the presumption of innocence. I am saying that 3 weeks ago no one was openly talking about Pacquiao and PEDs, and now all of the boxing world is, and as someone like Lance Armstrong would tell you it’s very difficult to get that toothpaste back in the tube.
*For a specific citation, see Colonel De Beers vs. Scott Hall, AWA, mid ’80’s.
1. Merry Holidays, y’all.
2. I am house-sitting for my out-of-town folks into January, so posting will be light through the 4th unless the sun goes nova or some such emergency.
3. If Pacquiao vs. Mayweather falls apart over this drug-testing issue I’ll eat my hat, and I wear a leather cowboy hat most days.*
* Note: I am lying.
“He’s just a guy who’s so stubborn, such a control freak and wants to make an example of this kid (Robinson). It’s not fair to him.”
It amazes me that this man gets taken seriously and quoted, as if he’s an authority on anything happening in New York. He was a failure as a top-3 draft pick, a failure as a star, a failure as the best player on the 76ers and then the Pistons, and long ago settled down into a role as an overpaid and mouthy has-been role player which it appears he’s not now qualified for anymore. Take a look at his career stats; what story do we see there? He came into the league as a mediocre shooter from 2 and 3 and has remained so for all 14 years of his career, relying on free throws (and star calls) to create any value whatsoever. He used to be a turnover machine, and has reduced that aspect of his game only as he’s reduced his willingness or ability to do much at all. He’s never played defense, at first because he couldn’t be bothered and later because he just plain couldn’t. He’s unemployed this year at age 35 (an amazing feat for a relatively able-bodied former top-3 draft pick) and obviously bitter at the Knicks for their failure to remedy that situation, but who could blame them when he put up a -6.62 Adj. +/- last year for a good Dallas team? Surely this is a man who should be taken seriously as a critic of a coach’s decisions, a player who seemingly went out of his way over the course of his career to not improve his game one whit over more than a decade. Fun addendum: check out his wikipedia for more quotes of him bitching and complaining about Byron Scott and calling him a passenger on those Lakers teams, and wanting to “kick his ass”. Jerry Stackhouse’s NBA career has been like a 15 year seminar on the theme of just not fucking getting it.
Nate Robinson is my favorite current player. I’m not thrilled to see him being forced out of New York, and when he goes (as he will), I’ll miss him; but there’s a reason why things like this happen to him, there’s a reason why things like not being offered a contract happen to guys like Jerry Stackhouse, and there’s a reason why when Mike D’antoni was a free agent there was a bidding war for his services, and the team which won that war is looking a good bit better off these days than the team which lost despite starting from much farther back. The Knicks right now are still in the draining-the-swamp stage of rebuilding from the Isiah years, and while I think there’s a lot of good teams where Nate could and will be a contributor the Knicks right now aren’t one of them. There aren’t the veteran stars to rein him in, the cadre of excellent defenders to make up for his failings, the tradition of winning in the recent past which might serve to curb some of his more individualistic and reckless urges. I don’t think signing him for this year was a mistake considering the nature of the contract and the need to field a competitive team in the near term for a variety of reasons, but he’s not an essential piece either this year or in the long term. If he wants out, let him go; and hope he gets it eventually, lest he end up like Jerry (or Stephon).
“London Fletcher’s still a clown
Still a clown
Still a clown
London Fletcher’s still a clown
Fuck off Redskins”
I don’t know how many people will end up having seen it, but taking both shows together that may have been the best night of MMA all year. Fucking amazing stuff, on so many levels.
His kick on Garcia was nasty and unsporting and he deserved to be booked for it; it was also exactly correct tactically and the sort of thing the current Arsenal team never, ever does and ought to do a lot more of. It clearly disjointed Hull in the first half and had their players losing their tempers and getting sloppy after 35+ minutes of disciplined defense, and it rang up a yellow card on Stephen Hunt- arguably Hull’s best and most active defender whose game revolves around skirting the edge of being booked and fouling frequently, which is curtailed greatly when he’s on a yellow. Far too often this Arsenal team goes out there and plays as though they’re walking through dance steps painted on the floor, expecting to win if they just keep completing pretty passes; Nasri’s foul was dickish, but it showed he was paying attention to and correctly reading the specifics of this individual game and taking responsibility for creating something. A very good sign. Sometimes, you have to win ugly.
EDIT: just to flesh this out- Nasri’s foul also had the effect of altering the officiating of the game to Arsenal’s benefit. Hull are a physical team and somewhat reliant on bullying tactics, and there’s a variety of ways to deal with that. One of them is to hope for- or induce- tight officiating standards. A fracas or handbags situation will often lead to an official feeling he has to call more fouls in situations where a call can legitimately be made or let go, and while he may make those calls equally for each team the overall effect will be to benefit the team which plays better football at the expense of the team which uses physical pressure and tactical fouling and near-fouling. Would Diaby have drawn the call which led to Denilson’s free kick if the official was not afraid of the game boiling over? Maybe, maybe not, but I don’t think it hurt. Obviously this nearly came back to bite Arsenal in the ass because Mikael Silvestre and Steve Bennett are both fantastically inept, but all’s well which ends well.
There is faerie dust and powdered clown in the water today, apparently. Fucking baffling.
Dossena one still think this is going to be a top-4 side? ‘Pool, I mean? They are just the dirt-worst circle of sad-sack suckers to have strapped on the studs. Benitez has to be getting close to the exit now- someone on the Guardian’s PXP pointed out that if Chelsea get a point at West Ham, Liverpool will go into Christmas closer to the bottom of the league than the top for the first time in God only knows how long. The last holdouts can blame the evil miasma raised by their owners if they want, but it’s not Hicks & Gillett’s fault the Benitez continues to spend enormous scads of money on overpriced “bot heese Inglish, innit?” crap like Glen Johnson and midget crocks unsuited to the league like Aquilani, that he’s been unable to replace the obviously-crucial Xabi Alonso, that he’s unable to put a leash on Mascherano, convince Gerrard to turn up for the season or find someone (anyone) able to play with Torres. This team needs a complete and total rethink because if they don’t get their shit together in the new year they could finish 7th or 8th. Right now they’re the best example of the way in which new money and some clever managers have shaken up the Premier League and eroded the class-based complacency of the old big four, and they’re at real risk of their performances spiraling downwards. It’s fairly clear that no one there knows what to do and the frustration level is rising.