A little over a month ago, I firmly believed the state of boxing was changing for the better. Thanks to the pressure of mixed martial arts (MMA), the demand from fans and the overall talent in boxing, great fights were being forced to happen, pay-per-views were diminishing and boxing fans were turning their frowns upside down.
The two best pound-for-pound fighters were planning to square off in March, and some fantastic fights were just over the horizon. I don't know about you, but my glass was full of optimism for the future of the sport.
Then, they did it to us again. Shame on us for falling for it.
The megafight between Manny Pacquiao (50-3, 38 KO) and Floyd Mayweather Jr. (40-0, 25 KO) was announced on Dec. 8, and negotiations seemed to be moving along quite smoothly. The only wrinkle was the venue. I don’t think anybody really cared where it ended up, just as long as it ended up, period. Unfortunately for the fans, it just plain ended.
Rumors started to surface around the holidays that Pacquiao and Mayweather were having issues over the blood testing. Then, just in time for the new year, we were all informed that the situation was bad enough that the fight may not happen. Around the time we were all tired of hearing about it, the nail in the coffin came from Bob Arum, who declared, "The fight is off."
What was such a nice outlook for 2010 has now turned bleak.
Pacquiao will take on a tough contender in Joshua Clottey (35-3, 20 KO) at Cowboys Stadium on March 13. This is a solid fight and a very intriguing matchup for Pacman. Clottey is no pushover and drove both Miguel Cotto (34-2, 27 KO) and Antonio Margarito (37-6, 27 KO) to the brink. Clottey is an extremely dangerous, sturdy and capable fighter.
The fight, however, will most likely land on PPV, and to me, that is no way to apologize to the fans for blowing what could have been the biggest fight in the recent history of the game.
To make things worse, Golden Boy Promotions announced that Floyd Mayweather is making plans to fight an undetermined opponent March 13 at the MGM Grand — most likely PPV, of course. So instead of the greatest fighters in the world punishing each other in the ring, they will be inflicting damage on our wallets.
This is an outcome that doesn’t just disappoint fans, but fellow boxers and the sport itself. The ramifications can be felt all the way down to the local level. Chris Traitti (8-1, 5 KO), a native of Quincy, Mass., who is fighting Jan. 22 at The Roxy in Boston, summed up how many fight fans feel: “The worst thing that could’ve happened to boxing was losing that fight, especially right now with boxing being in the state that it’s in.”
Simeon Dunwell (10-1, 3 KO), from Peabody, Mass., is fighting on the same card and also had nothing but negative feelings about the collapse.
“You ask me, I think they’re both scared of each other,” Dunwell said. “It should happen. They could make so much money, and it’s good for boxing. … That’s why boxing is going down. … MMA is coming up.”
Halfway through January, my glass of optimism is already springing a leak from my aggravation with Golden Boy, Arum and the three-ring circus that is the Mayweathers.
To add to the insult of dueling PPVs, Golden Boy has announced that even though Roy Jones was stopped in the first round by Danny Green back in December, they will be going forward with a Jones-Bernard Hopkins rematch. The fight is tentatively slated for April 17 at the Mandalay Bay Casino, and of course, it will be shown on PPV.
In the end, boxing has been through tough times before and will go through tough times again, but Traitti puts it plain and simple: “It’s too bad that fight didn’t happen, because boxing needed it — bad.”
Hopefully, by the end of the year, Pacquiao and Mayweather will put aside their petty differences and realize they aren’t just fighting each other. They are fighting to keep a drowning sport relevant.
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