Well, break out the champagne glasses and the motherf*ckin’ condoms, we got ourselves a mega-fight!
Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao is finally signed, sealed, and ready to be delivered May 2 in Vegas at the MGM Grand.
Much credit goes to the executives from both networks who toiled for long, surely frustrating hours under the guidance of CBS mega-exec Les Moonves. It couldn’t have been easy to get both sides of the Great Boxing Divide to finally put aside years of bad blood and mistrust in order to hammer out this deal.
What we know about the fight, so far, is that there is no rematch clause, drug testing protocol is in place, and, as expected, the average fan will be priced out of attending the live event due to four and five-figure ticket costs.
On the media side of things, the piggies are already lining up at the trough, working to leverage themselves into a free pass. It’s going to be harder than hard to get a press pass for a fight when competing against Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and all the other mainstream publications that wouldn’t normally pay boxing even a passing interest. So, expect some world class boot licking and after-the-fact whining from media members as fight night approaches.
But even with all the predictable drawbacks, Mayweather-Pacquiao is huge for the sport and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Floyd-Manny bomb will hit mainstream America near the tail end of an unprecedented nine-week stretch which will see boxing prominently featured on NBC, CBS, HBO, Showtime, ESPN, and Spike TV.
For the first time in our lifetime, boxing has its future in its own hands. The quality of the match-ups and the fairness of the outcomes will be the deciding factor when it comes to attracting new fans to a sport with an absolutely stagnant U.S. fan base. But this first step is a big, ambitious one in the right direction.
As we all know, though, sometimes boxing people can be their own worst enemies.
Even in the midst of so much positive movement, there’s a sub-class of fan looking to drown out the enthusiasm. They are poking holes in Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions series and whining about the timing of Mayweather-Pacquiao.
There are bitter, petty journalists still denigrating Mayweather for cowardice. They suggest that Mayweather was somehow cornered or tricked into signing to face Pacquiao. They conveniently forget five years of lies and misdirection from a Bob Arum who has never, at any single moment of this entire fiasco, looked like a businessman working to close a big deal. They also conveniently forget that Mayweather’s “ducked” fights with long-time Top Rank rivals get done (and done relatively quickly) when Arum stops being Arum. Mayweather came to terms with Miguel Cotto within weeks of Cotto becoming a promotional free agent and, this time, Mayweather even sealed the deal with Pacquiao when Arum stopped running to his puppets in the media with thinly-veiled digs aimed at him.
If the creeps have their way, they will diminish the impact of the mega-fight, injecting doubt and suspicion into the outcome, and it will be almost as if Mayweather-Pacquiao had never happened. The NBC and CBS project, because they’re dealing with public enemy no. 2 in Al Haymon, will be treated as though it were somehow bad for the sport.
Boxing will always have these shit stains floating around. And, in this case, they will work their hardest to maintain the status quo in boxing, whether intentionally or because of their own inability to embrace change and advancement. They will rally behind the powerbrokers and push back hard against any fighter too “uppity” to blindly accept the hand dealt to him.
Mayweather irks these stodgy, shilling media puppets, not because of his domestic violence or serial buffoonery, but because he is the escaped slave, bucking the system and keeping all of his own money. They hate Haymon because he’s showing other fighters how to be like Mayweather. The new system has little use for these old guard loyalists and their “one hand washes the other” mentality. The new model, of course, will bring in an entirely new roster of compromised media types, but we’ll handle the new crop of dodgy hucksters as they emerge.
Overall, the dynamic is changing and the old guard is losing its grip– and I say good riddance.
Bringing in fresh faces and new fans is the only way we can keep moving forward and ditch the shady business model that has made us the red light district of the sporting world. There’s more money in running boxing the right way– and now we get a chance to prove it.
I’m looking forward to seeing a generation-defining fight in Mayweather-Pacquiao and I can’t wait for the nine week stretch from March 7 to May 9 that will see more good boxing reach more Americans than at any time in boxing’s history.
Finally, boxing is moving in a positive direction. If it all falls apart along the way, you can be sure that I’ll be there letting you know what happened and who the culprits are. In the meantime, though, shills and apologists for the old guard better leave their temper tantrums out of the public discourse and get out of boxing’s way.
You can email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or listen to his weekly Boxing News/Zombie Preparedness podcast, “Left Hook to the Brain.” Oh yeah, and buy his book: Notes from the Boxing Underground! Paul is a full member of the Burger King Kids’ Club, a born iconoclast, and an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church.