Perhaps it’s too much of a good thing. The reality is that while this has been a historic rivalry, the action hasn’t been quite as heated as when it reached its fever pitch when they first met in 2004. And there seems to be a lot of backlash over what was perceived to be a dubious decision awarded to Pacquiao when they last faced each other in November of 2011.
Hey, even “The Godfather” only had three editions (although, admittedly Sofia Coppola probably had a lot to do with that). Sometimes, even good things must come to an end.
But duBoef insists, “It’s about the fans and what the consumers want.” He added that long-standing rivalries are an important fabric of the sport’s history. “Before I came to the press conference, I wanted my guys to pull some of the great four-plus fight [series] that have occurred, the rivalries. You have [Gene] Tunney and [Harry] Greb, Beau Jack and Bob Montgomery, [Sugar Ray] Robinson and [Jake] LaMotta, [Sandy] Saddler and [Willie] Pep, [Jersey Joe] Walcott and [Ezzard] Charles - these guys are some of the biggest names in the history of the sport that had four-plus fight [series] and were archrivals in great matches.
“So how can you say there is enough?”
Point taken but those rivalries took place in an era when boxers were much more active in general. Yes, there was obviously some repetition in terms of certain match-ups but because fighters performed much more often on a yearly basis there was also much more variation in opposition. You get the sense that the hardcore fan (who is really voicing his displeasure) wouldn’t mind seeing the latest installment of Pacquiao vs. Marquez if perhaps Pacquiao were coming off fights against the likes of Robert Guerrero and Lucas Matthysse (I know; I know. There’s that little “Cold War” issue but I’m dealing in hypotheticals here) and if Marquez had just faced Lamont Peterson and then either Brandon Rios or Mike Alvarado.
Instead, there seems to be almost a “Groundhog Day” feel to this fight. Part of the allure of the previous rematches was that they were spaced apart by several years and properly marinated. This here feels like it’s been microwaved.
Make no doubt about it; this promotion will do well. The reality is that for all the complaining you may see on Twitter, Facebook or any boxing forum, the casual fan (who really only watches boxing when it involves Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather) will be tuning in. This is the base that Top Rank and HBO Pay-Per-View will be banking on come the night of December 8th. And there is also the sizable Mexican and Filipino constituencies that will be relied on.
“You want to watch the Cowboys and Giants again?” duBoef asked rhetorically, perhaps comparing apples-to-oranges. After all, the NFL is a league with a set schedule. “You’ve seen it, so you don’t want to see the next one? That is rhetoric; people want to see entertainment and great matches. You saw that on Saturday how people are buzzing after the 12th round of [Julio Cesar] Chavez-[Sergio] Martinez. They want to see great matches and great rivalries.”
As for the need for new fights, duBoef states, “I would say we had a fresh new match-up in Pacquiao-[Tim] Bradley, which was a new face, a young guy, well-accomplished, incredible pedigree and it did very well but it didn’t do what we thought it would possibly do. We could’ve been hurt by the NBA game [Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat]; I don’t know. But you can do it; you do them and you try to bring out those guys and those guys kinda come to the top and rise out of a path from then on.”
The bottom line here is, well...the bottom line. Unlike a fight that is funded by the largesse of a premium cable network, pay-per-view is where the promoter operates without a safety net, financially, and it’s about moving units. And the reality is having a certain pay-per-view history as a prizefighter helps the promotion. The casual fan is all about the brand-name entity and at this level of pay-per-view, it’s not always about the best fight; it’s really about the business deal that works best.
For this particular equation, for better or worse, it was Marquez.
“There were three possible opponents and at a certain point, [Pacquiao] wanted to see if [Miguel] Cotto really wanted the fight. [Cotto] obviously didn’t and he went a different route and then when it came down to the two (Bradley or Marquez), [Pacquiao] deciding if he wanted to take on the archrivals: his nemesis in the most difficult fight or if he wanted to go along with the record book - on a fight most people thought he won and the judges gave Bradley the decision - so that was a decision he had to make. But he was always set on fighting his toughest opponent.”
The ratings are in for Showtime’s quadruple-header that took place last weekend at the MGM Grand featuring Saul Alvarez’s butchering of Josesito Lopez. And despite the presence of the card down the street at the Thomas and Mack Center with Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (a pay-per-view telecast), they procured a sizable audience (by their usual standards). Here’s part of a Golden Boy/Showtime press release:
· Saturday’s main event bout between Canelo and Lopez attracted over one million viewers (1.04 million) for the live telecast, surpassing the 2010 Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins event as the highest viewership for a bout on SHOWTIME since the network began tracking bout viewership.
· Canelo vs. Lopez drew the largest Hispanic audience for an individual bout on SHOWTIME since 2009, outperforming Brandon Rios vs. Miguel Acosta from 2011.
· Saturday’s average viewership ranked as the highest SHOWTIME boxing telecast of the year, and the second-highest average viewership on the network since 2007.
And for those hoping to catch Pacquiao-Marquez live, here’s the ticket release:
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with MP Promotions, Zanfer Promotions, Márquez Boxing, Tecate and MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, tickets to Pacquiao-Márquez 4 will go on sale Friday, September 28 at 1:00 p.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. PT. Tickets are priced at $1,200, $900, $600, $400, and $200. Ticket sales at $1,200, $900, $600 and $400 are limited to 10 per person and ticket sales at $200 are limited to two (2) per person. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000. Tickets also are available for purchase at www.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.
More than one source inside the dressing room of Chavez Jr. after his loss to “Maravilla” on Saturday night told me that he and his father had some rather tense words (I’m guessing they weren’t arguing about whether Junior should be having Wheaties or Froot Loops in his undies). The bottom line is the elder Chavez was none-too-pleased with the way his son prepared for this contest. Julio Sr. left training camp more than once, I’m told, as he was so perplexed by his son’s training habits and didn’t want to cause a distraction by clashing with his son.
I know one thing; yeah, you can work hard in your living room or in the kitchen and get in a good boxing workout but it’s simply not the same. Various trainers have told me there’s nothing that can really replicate working on a heavily padded canvas inside a boxing ring. Emanuel Steward once told me that while you can condition your lungs with roadwork, time spent moving around a real ring is what strengthens and conditions your legs for a fight.
It’s just one of the myriad of reasons why fighters should actually go to the gym and train (the fact this has to be drilled into Chavez Jr. says a lot, doesn’t it?). I mean, yeah, I guess Kobe Bryant and LeBron James could shoot hoops in their driveways and still be ready for games but the fact is, during the season, they are at shoot-arounds and practices with their team.
One camp member told me, “Yeah, you could do the whole living room thing and beat Andy Lee. It wasn’t going to work for Sergio Martinez.”
Speaking of the middleweight champion, while there’s a lot of talk of a rematch between Martinez and Chavez next year at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, there is still the issue of Martinez’s left hand and right knee (or was it right hand and left knee?) and in short conversations with his promoter, Lou DiBella, and adviser, Sampson Lewkowicz, they both admitted these drawbacks will probably keep him out of the ring till around May.
So there’s a good chance that Chavez Jr. will fight before engaging in that rematch (should it be consummated).
There is a chance that the talented Gary Russell Jr. could be added to the Showtime card on November 10th at the Staples Center, I’m told...So is HBO really going to buy a fight between IBF junior middleweight titlist Cornelius Bundrage and Andre Berto for November 24th?...Gary Gittelsohn says the bout between Brian Viloria and Hernan “Tyson” Marquez is still on track for November 10th and will be televised by Univision (in the States) at a venue in either San Diego or Laughlin...It’s not even the blown calls that are really maddening about the replacement officials in the NFL; it’s really the tempo and pacing of games that are every bit the problem...I really hope we get to see Leo Santa Cruz again before the end of 2012...Yeah, it looks like “Boardwalk Empire” will be very bloody and violent this season on HBO. And I’m not complaining. Nucky’s gonna Nucky...Like many others, I was saddened to hear about the passing of Steve Sabol of NFL Films. He and his father (along with the rest of their company) are the caretakers of the history of the NFL and I can honestly say they nurtured my love of the sport (I’m sure with many others). His legacy will live on in his work. Rest in peace (The Autumn Wind is a Raider)
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