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Decisions, Decisions

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There were multiple reports that an announcement was forthcoming this past weekend as to whom Manny Pacquiao would face on April 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Top Rank Promotions founder Bob Arum and Pacquiao’s adviser, Mike Koncz met on Saturday afternoon to discuss the possibilities. However, according to Koncz, “Nothing was finalized,” regarding Pacquiao’s next opponent.
 
The most commonly discussed potential foes are Timothy Bradley - who “defeated” Pacquiao back in June of 2012 in a controversial decision - and Ruslan Provodnikov, who had a breakout 2013 in which he battled the “Desert Storm” tooth and nail before hammering Mike Alvarado into submission.

(Now before we go any further, yes, I’ve read and heard about the reports stating that Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather finally hooking up in September. Uh, listen; seeing is believing and the reality is, the “Pac-Man” has a pay-per-view date in April and Mayweather has one lined up three weeks later at the same venue. As of now, neither has a definitive opponent lined up. So let’s get to this juncture before wasting any more time talking about a fight that seems destined to be nothing more than a fantasy (again). Any discussion of this match-up should be tabled till the evening of May 3rd, which at that point, only then can we further speculate on that multimillion-dollar pissing contest.)
 
As for whom Pacquiao faces in the spring, Bradley seems the logical choice. Not only is he affiliated with Top Rank (basically a prerequisite in this Cold War era of boxing) but they share a history. Their first meeting on June 9th, 2012 was supposedly the latest death blow and black eye to the sport of boxing as Bradley won a split decision, widely panned and criticized by the masses. The overwhelming majority believed Pacquiao had done more than enough to get his hand raised in victory. But a funny thing happened; this verdict did not kill boxing and since then, Bradley has rehabilitated his reputation with a slugfest versus Provodnikov and a strategic win over Juan Manuel Marquez. To many pundits and observers, he is 2013’s “Fighter of the Year.”
 
So this seems to be an easy choice; right? Well...
 
The problem is that while Bradley is a premiere prizefighter, as a B-side, he still may not bring enough to the table to satisfy what he is reportedly asking for a second go-round with Pacquiao. Sources say Bradley is asking for in the neighborhood of $8 million (he received a guarantee of around $5 million for their first fight). While Bradley’s stock has risen in the aftermath of their first bout, that’s no guarantee that Bradley vs. Pacquiao II would do anywhere near what their first fight did on pay-per-view, in the neighborhood of 900,000. The reality is that pay-per-view pairings aren’t so much about the best possible fights that can be made but really, the math working out. Their first match-up did well below other Pacquiao pay-per-view events since becoming a global superstar after retiring Oscar De la Hoya in December of 2008.
 
This much is clear; in the aftermath of his devastating knockout loss at the hands of Marquez in December of 2012, the Pacquiao brand is greatly diminished. His most recent event versus Brandon Rios in Macao on November 24th garnered around 475,000 buys. A far cry from the million-plus pay-per-view buys that Pacquiao and Top Rank could once count on routinely. This means two things; not only does Pacquiao most likely have to take a haircut (i.e. a pay cut) but so do his opponents for the time being. There is also the fear that for as much controversy as their first fight caused, the actual fight itself was rather tepid and tame in terms of action and the return bout would again be more strategic than spectacular.
 
Again, this is about mathematics and bookkeeping. If Bradley sticks to his reported demands for a rematch, then he will most likely price himself out of the picture. This is a whole new world as it relates to Pacquiao economics and what is financially feasible.
 
As for “The Siberian Rocky,” this time last year, he was thought of as merely an “ESPN2-level fighter” but he finished 2013 as a boxer with incredible momentum and one of the most fan-friendly fighters on the planet. He certainly brings a favorable style to the dance versus Pacquiao but there are a few dynamics that get in the way here. First of all, Provodnikov’s friendship with Pacquiao, who has employed him as a sparring partner in the past. And then there is his union with one Freddie Roach, who just happens to train both men. Provodnikov has made it clear that these are big issues with him and those around him have reaffirmed that. Roach himself is very uncomfortable with the possibility of seeing Provodnikov in another corner, even if it’s for just one fight.
 
The fight Provodnikov really wants is against Marquez and despite his name being repeatedly mentioned as a possibility for April 12th, Arum has not spoken to Banner Promotions (which handles Provodnikov) since Christmas Eve. They are said to be far apart in money also (again, a new math exists with Pacquiao in 2014). Currently, Provodnikov and Banner have a one-fight obligation to Top Rank as a result of the Alvarado fight.
 
So this much is clear; Pacquiao is slated to fight on April 12th. What still has to be figured out is against whom.
 
And this might be decided not by who makes the right fight but who fits the right price.
 
PPV
 
Just remember how the general math works out with pay-per-view fights. Right around half of the money derived from pay-per-view events go to the cable and satellite providers. So if a fight does 500,000 buys at $65 each (generally the price nowadays), that means that the promotion comes away with just over $16 million.
 
Usually the pay-per-per revenue is the largest piece of the financial pie, which also includes a site fee from a venue or casino, international and rebroadcast rights and various sponsorships that go into the budget for a promotion.
 
So if the new Pacquiao paradigm is more about having a half-million pay-per-view buys instead of a million, you can see how that affects what both the A and B-sides will be guaranteed financially.
 
FNF
 
Well, I’ll say this; it was a memorable season opener for “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN2 in which Rances Barthelemy stopped Argenis Mendez in short order to win the IBF 130-pound belt at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But it was shrouded in controversy as Barthelemy, who had hurt Mendez in the first frame and then decked him in the second, landed the finishing blows after the bell had sounded the end of round two (actually two rings of the bell).
 
Now I happen to agree with ESPN2’s Teddy Atlas. It seemed Barthelemy was well on his way to winning this fight. Mendez, the defending beltholder, simply didn’t have his pins underneath him for some reason and was getting buzzed early and often. However, that in itself is not enough to excuse any fouls that take place during a fight or how you rule on them. But really, the blame shouldn’t be squarely at the feet of Barthelemy but really, referee Pete Podgorski, who exhibited poor mechanics as he was nowhere near the action as the late punches were thrown and landed.
 
What I’ve observed is when the 10-second warning is given near the end of rounds, the referees begin hovering a little closer around both fighters to make sure no tardy punches are thrown. In this situation, Podgorski seemed to be closer to St. Paul than either Barthelemy or Mendez.
 
My opinion is that an immediate rematch will be ordered by the IBF.
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
 
I posed the question on Twitter on Sunday afternoon as to whom would you like to see face Pacquiao on April 12th between Bradley and Provodnikov. The overwhelming answer I got was Bradley...I keep hearing that the plan from Top Rank is to move Mikey Garcia up in weight as soon as possible in 2014 and keep him there to get him to a Pacquiao fight...Is Andrew Luck special or what?...It’s time for the Bengals to realize some hard truths about Andy Dalton; right?...Uh, Al Golden - yeah, not a good look for you or for Miami that matter…Ican be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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