Boxing: Too late to save the sweet science from itself?
Boxing fans yesterday witnessed the sport of boxing give itself yet another low blow, as the Manny Pacquiao farce gave 150 million people around the world a reason to give up on the sport for good.
Just a few short hours earlier, the UFC strode onto network TV for the first time, and saw that same number of people tune into the event worldwide, giving the organisation’s push into the mainstream a massive shot in the arm.
Pacquiao vs Marquez was a daylight robbery that Jesse James would have been proud of.
As hard as it is to believe that Juan Manuel Marquez wasn’t unanimously awarded the decision by the judges, what is even harder to believe is that not a single judge ruled in his favour.
It’s often said that watching a fight at ringside and at home shows two different fights, but that argument doesn’t stick here.
Most commentators at ringside had Marquez ahead, as did myself and The Roar’s round-by-round blog had Marquez by a round or two.
Most of those that frequent social networking sites appeared to have the same, and judging by the resounding boos that were heard around the MGM Grand Garden Arena when the decision was announced, plenty of the people in the stands certainly had him the winner.
The biggest indication though was the sight of Pacquiao walking despondently to his corner upon hearing the final bell, whilst Marquez celebrated jubilantly.
Even betting organisation Sportingbet decided to refund those who bet on Marquez, given their disbelief at the decision.
The sad thing is that this is not the first time it has happened in the sport, and it sure as hell won’t be the last.
Questions need to be asked.
Greed and corruption continues to kill the sport, and fans continue to turn away.
For so long fans simply put up with it, shrugged their shoulders and said “that’s boxing”. But that was before the emergence of an alternative.
The biggest problem with boxing is that the biggest names are held accountable to no one, and are available to the highest bidder.
They have the ability to choose who they fight, when they fight and in some cases who is judging.
It is not an uncommon occurrence for a fighter to protest over the selection of a judge and have a more favourable one put in their place, as the governing bodies do not want to jeopardise their slice of the fighter’s salary they receive through sanctioning fees.
With the likes of Mayweather and Pacquiao, that’s big money. The fighters have all the control, and their promotional companies have just as much sway.
The big promotional companies wheel and deal, and have enough money and enough pull to keep certain fighters down and allow certain fighters to become protected species.
Not for a second am I saying that corruption was involved in yesterday’s decision, but history has shown a long list of occasions when it has reared its ugly head in boxing.
The biggest example that Australian fans will be familiar with is the controversial decision in the first Jeff Fenech vs Azumah Nelson fight.
Fenech himself has said in interviews when questioned on the decision, “Well, Nelson was a Don King fighter, on a Don King promotion”.
Referees and judges have often found themselves being wined and dined; received significant hotel upgrades and numerous other “sweeteners” by promoters to ensure their fighters get the ample consideration when tallying the numbers at the end of a fight.
Pacquiao received a cool $22 million dollars for the fight, whilst Marquez walked away with $5 million.
The success that Pacquiao has, extensively lines the pockets of many, and with a $100 million dollar fight with Floyd Mayweather on the radar, you can certainly see why I am asking the question. I am not the only one.
A fourth fight between Pacquiao and Marquez will see significant increases to both of those figures, but the question has to be asked whether Juan Manuel Marquez wants to go around again, after he has been given the rough end of the stick on three occasions now.
The fight showed that Marquez has a hell of a lot of fight left in him, and that Manny Pacquiao is very beatable.
Whilst there are many that say Pacquiao is the pound for pound king and some even say he should be called the greatest of all time, there are as many who see him as simply overhyped.
Wins over Top Rank stablemates Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey, have been coupled with victories over Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley, all of which who had been beaten by Floyd “Money” Mayweather previously before stepping into the ring with the Pacman.
While Pacquiao has managed two highly controversial wins over Marquez, and another highly controversial draw, Floyd Mayweather defeated Marquez so convincingly in 2009, that none of the judges’ scorecards even had Marquez winning a round.
One positive to come out of the decision is that a Pacquiao victory may finally push the “super fight” with Mayweather closer to reality.
Mayweather may now see some significant chinks in the Pacquiao armour, and move in to not only cash in significantly but permanently erase any conjecture over who is the best in the world.
A Pacquiao loss to Marquez would have certainly dented the box office appeal in the fight, as well as made negotiations difficult in relation to a 50-50 split of revenue difficult, considering Pacquiao would have then been coming of a loss.
But while the circus that is boxing moves onto the next city, the question remains whether the hardcore fans will continue to walk through the turnstiles.
Pay per view sales are down, and numerous fight cards recently in Las Vegas have seen embarrassingly poor ticket sales.
On the other hand, the UFC continues to grow, with record numbers in almost every business area. They have a highly lucrative network television deal, and continue to expand to more and more countries all over the globe.
Boxing’s two biggest drawcards have left Boxing with two bitter blows in a matter of months. First, it was the controversial end to the Mayweather- Ortiz fight, and now this.
I wrote earlier this year that the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight is the one that could save boxing.
Now, it may simply be too late.