Follow the money trail: Pacquiao’s star power paves way for real ‘Event’

Pray of hope The fight may have been a fairly big letdown for something called “The Event.” Joshua Clottey provided not much more resistance than the heavy bag in my apartment. And a decent undercard turned out pretty lousy.

But last night’s fight further reiterated the star power – and drawing power – that Manny Pacquiao possesses. And as it somewhat numbs the bad feelings of the disintegrated holy grail fight of Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather that was supposed to take place last night, it whets our appetite for that matchup when it finally happens.

Because it will happen, and the power of Pacquiao is the biggest reason. For a fight against a guy virtually nobody in the general public knows, and who essentially refused to throw punches, he drew over 50,000 people to a football stadium. For a boxing match. In 2010.

If there was any question before that Pacquiao is the face of the sport, that should clear it up.

And you know PBF was watching that last night on some 100-inch screen in Vegas. And you know he was seeing straight-up dollar signs. Even if Floyd still views himself as the biggest name in the sport – which he isn’t – he has to respect the gate attraction that Pacquiao has become. If Pacquiao drew 50,000 essentially alone, how many could the two of them draw for a fight viewed as the epitome of the sport and a mainstream crossover?

Don’t tell the Iron Sheik Mario Lopez was there

There’s really not much to say about last night’s fight. Though I watched a good amount of it, I was unable to score it round-by-round, but I can’t recall seeing a single round Clottey won. He put up a wall, played it safe and was outthrown about four to one. If it was an effort to get Pacquiao to punch himself out, that was like waiting for the tide to stop washing up on the shore.

But Clottey obviously squandered a big opportunity to land a big punch and put himself firmly in the big-fight scene. He took his 1.5 mil, protected his dome and went home.

Pacquiao threw over 1,200 punches – mostly right into a cautious Clottey’s wrists – an insane pace to keep up for most mortals, but not unrealistic for him. That’s always what Pacquiao has been – a whirling dervish of activity, with blows coming from any and all angles. He’s gone from the little secret of fight fans as he fought the Barreras and Morales-es of the world, to a mainstream event in himself.

And I don’t think the blood testing issue took much of the bloom off the rose. Most people view that for what it is – a power struggle between two men who fancy themselves the greatest in the sport. It’s impossible to rule out anyone in contemporary sports using performance-enhancing drugs, but I still would like to not believe Pac did. And with someone that charismatic, and finally big boxing events materializing, the public has a short memory.

So the next step is for Mayweather to defeat Shane Mosley, which I expect him to do. As much as I like Mosley as a fighter, Floyd as usual has worked things in his favor, fighting a very talented opponent – who happens to be 38 years old now. If there’s an opportune time for PBF to fight Sugar Shane, now would be that time.

Pretty much sums it up The ironic thing is that if Mosley wins and ends up in that fight against Pacquiao, which would be far less in demand than Floyd-Manny, it would probably end up being a better fight. There’s a very good chance PBF would ratchet up the defense in a tactical fight, but I’m not sure he could match Pacquiao’s workrate.

Despite the likelihood it will end up a letdown, PBF-Pacquiao would be the fight that would get boxing back in every living room. It would be Mayweather-De La Hoya to the Nth Degree. And it would hopefully signal a trend toward megafights in big arenas; it’ll be interesting to gauge the buzz for Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman at Yankee Stadium in June. Big arenas mean lower average ticket prices – the everyman can get in the door, but the larger crowd means the gate is still higher.

Freddie Roach thinks Mayweather concocted this drug issue once he heard Manny didn’t like needles in order to buy some time so as to not face him in his second fight back from “retirement.” If that’s the case – and it certainly sounds plausible with PBF’s Machiavellian tendencies – I actually can’t blame him after watching Pacquiao decimate Miguel Cotto.

After likely admitting internally the financial clout Pacquiao possesses, there’s no question Mayweather will suddenly find some middle ground with Pac in his noble fly-by-night effort to fix drug testing in the sport.

And if people were able to get excited about Pacquiao’s glorified shadowboxing session last night, the eventual PBF-Pac megafight will be bigger than it ever would have been with a two-month buildup last night, regardless of the actual quality of the fight. And maybe that was Mayweather’s goal all along.


Mystery date


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