It is a fight that on paper should be explosive, brutal and an all out war. However, if it were to happen in 8 months time it would sadly prove to be nothing more than a 'tune-up' for ‘The Pacman’ [Manny Pacquiao].
Just recently Alex Ariza (Pacquiao’s conditioning coach) expressed how Pacquiao may be facing a prolonged period out of the ring, in fact it would be the longest lay-off leading up to a fight since Pacquiao's 2006 rematch against Erik ‘El Terrible’ Morales.
"Manny went 12 hard rounds in his last two fights so the body, the muscle needs time to recover... I don’t worry about him being inactive for eight months. It would do more good to him..." - Alex Ariza (MB.com.ph; March 22, 2010)
After a period out like that, there is very little possibility Pacquiao's camp would be foolish enough to consider throwing him in against a top Welterweight like Shane Mosley, Floyd Mayweather, Andre Berto or even Antonio Margarito.
The Best Fight Out There?
Freddie Roach (Pacquiao’s trainer) recently dismissed talks of a potential fight against Antonio Margarito (37-6-0), citing the boxers ineligibility to fight in America as being the main issue. Some skeptics may suggest that it is a particularly convenient excuse as Margarito would provide extremely stiff opposition for Pacquiao. Although, that is not the only contentious issue, there seems to be a difference of opinions between Roach and Bob Arum (Pacquiao’s promoter) who was very keen on Pacquiao meeting Margarito (also promoted by Bob Arum’s ‘Top Rank’ promotions) as his next opponent.
"I'm thinking about it and the number one contender in my mind right now is Valero." - Freddie Roach (sports.stv.tv; 17 March, 2010)
As much as boxing fans have expressed their desperation to see Manny Pacquiao vs. Edwin Valero (27-0-0), I think the educated opinion amongst fans is that there is currently a huge disparity between the fighters. Pacquiao has a wealth of experience, has fought at the highest level for many years and Valero is still considered as being relatively untested. Valero’s last outing against Antonio DeMarco certainly showed his potential against a higher caliber of opponent, but Pacquiao is the top fighter in boxing and Valero has a long way to go before he can consider himself a true contender to Pacquiao’s P4P (Pound for Pound) crown.
The Venezuelan Valero boasts an incredible record, with all of his wins coming by way of knockout, no matter what is said about his potential frailties his record should not be taken lightly, regardless of the opponents he has faced to date. Valero in theory would not be a hard fight to make since he is also promoted by Bob Arum. Pacquiao’s last two opponents Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey were also ‘Top Rank’ fighters, and it seems increasingly likely that Pacquiao’s next fight may well be against a fighter under the same stable.
Conflict of Interests
He is the promoters dream boxer, a knockout specialist, with power in both hands, the other is Manny Pacquiao. Bob Arum has his Pacquiao replacement in place whenever Pacquiao decides to hang up his gloves. This is where the conflict may arise, why would Arum want a fighter who may well go on to fill the shoes of his current ‘star’, risk a brutal loss before he has established himself in the US market?
Clearly Freddie Roach and Bob Arum are not thinking on the same wavelength, in saying that Bob Arum has shown little consideration for his fighters when pairing them against Pacquiao. Negotiations have often been made to favor the Philippine icon and maybe it is not inconceivable that Arum would be willing to sacrifice another lamb for slaughter.
Bob Arum may not be as enthusiastic about this fight as Freddie Roach, Valero is surely Arum’s future poster boy and having him systematically taken apart by Pacquiao might not be the best idea. Having said that Valero has been very vocal in wanting to fight Pacquiao and now that Roach has mentioned his name, the word will travel and I am positive Valero will pressure Arum to make that fight happen.
Making The Weight
Freddie Roach has already stated that Manny will not be fighting under the Welterweight limit (147lbs) again, which would mean that Valero would have to move up 12lbs from Lightweight (135lbs) in the space of 8months to take on the current P4P King.
There had been talk of Valero facing Lamont Peterson (27-1-0) at Junior Welterweight (140lbs), and little has materialized in those negotiations. It will be essential that Valero has at least one fight under his belt at either Welter or Junior Welter before considering any potential fight against Pacquiao.
The Reality of The Situation
When you consider the factors it is surprising that anyone, especially Freddie Roach could bill Valero as the number one contender.
We would all love to see Pacquiao and Valero go toe to toe, but considering Valero has never fought over 135lbs to date, it surely suggests that Valero will be little more than a tune-up; not too dissimilar to Floyd Mayweather vs. Juan Manuel Marquez.
It is an exciting fight in principle but it will definitely not live up to the hype, unless you are a Pacquiao fan and crave an early Knock out.
It Makes ‘Cash Common Sense’
Valero’s main stream exposure has been curtailed since he has been unable to get the licenses to fight in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, however he has been certified to fight in Texas. Pacquiao’s last outing at the Cowboy’s stadium was a mammoth success, and it could host ‘The Pride of Philippines’ once more in what will surely be a far more entertaining fight. Freddie Roach was bullish about the possibility:
"Valero is licensed in Texas. If we do Valero there, we could sell out the whole place" (sports.stv.tv; 17 March, 2010)
Roach can build the fight up as much as he wants, the obvious questions will inevitably arise; is he ducking Mosley/ Mayweather? Is it the fear of Drug testing? Why fight a Lightweight?
"I've been watching him a little bit... I know he's a big puncher. He's a southpaw and does pose some difficulties... I think that's the best marketable fight out there for us." - Freddie Roach (sports.stv.tv; 17 March, 2010)
It certainly is not a question of will the fight sell, it sells itself. Whichever way you look at it there will be a knockout, it is a marketers dream. The bottom line is Pacquiao holds incredible bargaining power and could demand and incredibly high percentage of the purse, for a fight that may well prove to be unbelievably easy.
It is a fight if held at Lightweight or even Junior Welterweight would have many people intrigued, but at Welterweight it would be impossible to think of anything other than a Pacquiao victory. One potential stumbling block might well be Bob Arum, Valero has been long billed as Pacquiao's successor and it seems premature to put him in the ring against Pacquiao.
If the fight was to be officially announced it would also lead to a rush by the media to find out more about Edwin Valero, cluttering the sports media with questions about his health (Valero suffered a severe head injury in 2001 after crashing his motorcycle) and how he managed to obtain a license to fight.
This would surround boxing with an influx of negative press in an era where other combat sports are ‘apparently’ taking over, it is not what the sport needs. Valero has never been in the ring with a fighter as devastating as Manny Pacquiao (51-3-2, 38KO). Pacquiao possesses speed and power like none other, and subsequently you do fear of what the consequences could ultimately be for Valero if he were to be knocked out by the ‘smiling assassin’ and what reverberations it would send around the boxing world especially if the blow proved to be fatal.