The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

You’re Doing It Wrong

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.

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December 28, 2009 - Posted by | Boxing

1 Comment »

  1. Happy New Year to you both. Keep up the great work in 2010.

    Comment by 'holic | December 31, 2009 | Reply


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