Pacquiao vs Bradley: The Bob Arum circus rolls on
For a sport that thrives in the gambling capital of the world, Las Vegas, boxing is known for displaying the odd card trick or two. Top Rank Boss Bob Arum has made it into an art form.
Arum possesses an arsenal of tricks that would make a Las Vegas dealer blush. It’s the ability to waive one hand in front of everyone and hit them over the head with the other, and he has shown it again with the scheduling of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight this weekend.
On the face of it, the fight looks like a blockbuster, The Mega Power that is Pacquiao against the undefeated, Tim Bradley.
But if you look beneath the surface a few cracks appear.
Bob Arum is the head of the promotional company, Top Rank, which promotes Manny Pacquiao along with a plethora of big names in the sport.
Arum has become a master at keeping his fights in house and almost refusing to do business with rival promotional company, Golden Boy Promotions headed by Oscar De La Hoya.
Golden Boy house perhaps the biggest fish in Boxing, Floyd Mayweather and two fighters touted as the next generation, Saul Alvarez and Amir Khan.
Floyd Mayweather points the blame squarely at Bob Arum for why a fight between he and Manny Pacquiao continues to elude fight fans, given Arum’s hesitance to risk his cash cow, despite it no doubt being the biggest earning fight of all time.
There are many in Boxing who see Pacquiao as a protected species, who Arum closely matches up with Top Rank fighters. It’s smart business in one way, as Arum takes a cut of both fighters purse and see’s his future earnings rise no matter what the result.
Four of Pacquiao’s last six opponents have been Top Rank fighters with Joshua Clottey, Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Tim Bradley all under Arum, with Pacquiao venturing away from the stable against the over the hill, “Sugar” Shane Mosley, formerly managed by Arum, and Juan Manuel Marquez, who many considered to be in a similar state to Mosley at the time.
The Marquez fight was a war, with the ageing Mexican turning back the clock to shatter the “Superman” image that Pacquiao has created, only for Pacquiao to be awarded a dubious points decision victory, which I liken to daylight robbery. Pacquiao then looked at his next conquest and hype began to build towards a mega-fight with Mayweather.
Once again, the talk from both camps amounted to nothing and both looked at other opponents. Mayweather went after the next best thing and lined up a Super fight with Miguel Cotto. Most assumed Pacquiao would welcome Marquez again for a historic fourth fight, but instead he turned to Tim Bradley.
Bradley will walk into the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday with a chance to pull off one of the biggest upsets of all time. Whilst it wont be as surprising as that win by James “Buster” Douglas, most people expect Pacquiao to make light work of the young American.
Sure Bradley is undefeated, but he has spent the last twelve months ducking the biggest name in the Light-Welterweight division, Amir Khan. Before that it took him an age to have him meet Devon Alexander.
On Sunday he moves up to Welterweight to meet Pacquiao for the WBO Welterweight Title. Whilst it’s a weight Bradley has fought at previously, he has spent his career campaigning in lighter weight classes. Bradley is unproven at the elite level and has shown a genuine lack of desire to meet the biggest names until now.
He has been in the ring with opponents like Junior Witter, Nate Campbell, Lamont Petersen, Devon Alexander and Joel Casamayor, but none are anywhere near the level of Pacquiao.
His last fight was on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard and Bradley promptly dispatched Casamayor in eight rounds. An impressive performance no doubt, but Casamayor has always done his best work at Lightweight, not Welterweight.
Bradley could luck out on Sunday and find himself winning the jackpot. Not only does he claim his highest ever pay day in meeting Pacquiao (touted as $7.5 million), but would most probably find himself walking into a fight with Floyd Mayweather that would command him almost triple the earnings.
But I can’t see Bradley getting the job done.
Whilst Pacquiao is heavy favorite and to until know I am yet to hear anyone of note predict otherwise, debate is starting to stir around Arum and his prized fighter. The fight with Marquez showed Pacquiao might not be the star he has been hyped to be.
An inability to offer a rematch to Marquez, or Cotto and a refusal by Arum to do business with Golden Boy at times, means questions are being asked of Team Pacquiao.
For so long Mayweather has been cast as the man responsible for a delay in the mega-fight being made, but Mayweather won a substantial public relations hold in taking the dangerous fight with Miguel Cotto, shining a large spotlight now on Pacquiao.
Come Sunday Pacquiao will take home his substantial pay and look good in the process when he hands Bradley his first loss, but like everything in Vegas, the bright lights will again mask a dark undertow.
And another Bob Arum card trick that pays full dividends.
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