Last night's late-night media call with Top Rank wound up like we'd all expected. Manny Pacquiao will not be facing Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2010, and now the target they're looking at is May 2011. Hey, folks, only about six more months before we enter this exciting cycle again.
Mayweather, Pacquiao, Top Rank, Golden Boy and everyone else involved in this may think they're keeping the fight hot on the back burner, but in reality, they're doing nothing but harming what this fight could have been. When Mayweather returned and dominated Juan Manuel Marquez, and did a shocking one million buys on PPV for it, he was as hot as he's ever been. Pacquiao followed that with a great win over Miguel Cotto, did 1.25 million buys himself, and the public was feeling it. The public demanded this, and not just boxing fans. The once-a-year or three-times-a-decade people were demanding it, too.
This was a fight that went beyond just boxing's sewing circles.
After they failed to come to an agreement, a lot of people walked away. I really believe that. Pacquiao beat Joshua Clottey in a fight at Cowboys Stadium, where the less said about anything but the venue, the better. Mayweather took a big-time fight with Shane Mosley, predictably dominated, and sold a lot of PPVs.
But the "here we go again" aspect of round two in the negotiations to make boxing's only mega fight was like a cloud hanging over a day at Six Flags (or Cedar Point, for those who know Cedar Point). You just knew, because this was the day you picked, that it would f***ing rain. And I think the majority of us knew this fight wasn't going to happen. Just using this site as a barometer, we all but pulled coverage of the negotiations from the front page. I didn't care, didn't believe anything real was going to come out of it, and a lot of our readers seemed to feel the same. Sure we can still get a good discussion going, but a lot of the posts are people saying, "This has become tiresome and boring." I'd rather talk about the guys who are going to fight, even if it's a Zab Judah-Jose Armando Santa Cruz fight, or this week's Sky Friday Fight Night.
Now, Manny Pacquiao will be fighting on November 13. Bob Arum is looking into Abu Dhabi or Mexico, with possible opponents being Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito -- surprise, surprise, surprise. Instead of looking outside for a real challenge, or even just a fresh challenge for someone who's earned it (like Timothy Bradley, perhaps), Arum stays in-house and offers us potential opponents who have either been shredded once by Manny (Cotto) or who have become the most polarizing and temper spike-inducing figure in boxing (Margarito).
Which brings me to my ultimate feeling right now. It's time for boxing fans from all over the world to stop acting like one side is better than the other in this whole saga. It's time for us to unite, forget about why we do or don't like Mayweather, Pacquiao, Arum, Oscar, Schaefer, Ellerbe, and whoever else is involved in this. It's time for us to start blaming everyone involved for the best and biggest fight available in the entire combat sports world not happening. Nobody is pristine here, and for all the loyalty you've shown these people, you're going to be offered a rematch that doesn't need to happen or a fight with a guy who doesn't even have a license to fight in the United States. (And this isn't about Antonio Margarito, either, so I'd rather not have that discussion for the 63rd time where all the gumshoes crack the case, if you'd do me that favor.)
I'm not raging about this. I'm frustrated simply because this is, like it or not, what boxing is more often than what it isn't. For all the strides that have been made in the last four years or so after a really awful period where guys were flat-out avoiding taking hard fights as much as they possibly could, we have these two diva sides bickering and finding it impossible to make the one fight that really matters for either of them.
I'll wind up ordering whatever fight Pacquiao has on November 13. But there are a lot of people who aren't going to put that $54.95 on their cable or satellite bills this time, and that goes for fans all the way from the hardest of hardcore to the people who can name seven boxers and three of them are Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson. And I don't blame them, either.
Maybe we just haven't made it clear enough that Pacquiao-Mayweather is the only fight.
But maybe not. Some men, you just can't reach.