ESPN's Teddy Atlas created a bit of a stir on Friday Night Fights this weekend when he suggested that to find out if Manny Pacquiao is truly a great fighter, he should step up again in weight and fight Sergio Martinez, the current middleweight champion of the world.
Most of the online response I saw from that ranged from considering it to be nonsense to suggesting that Atlas clearly must hate Manny Pacquiao and refuses to ever give the Filipino star his due and proper no matter what he does. Indeed, Atlas has long been a public and vocal doubter of just how great Pacquiao is, whether or not his opponents are hand-picked, and all the other common complaints from those who don't bow at the feet of "Pacman."
But Bob Arum says that he's in no hurry to match Manny with Martinez, which he feels is just plain too high for Pacquiao to go in weight:
"It's a fight that's a little crazy because Manny gets in the ring at 147 or 148. Sergio Martinez, even if he could make 150-pounds, which I don't know if he can, gets in the ring at 175. So you're asking Manny to spot a fighter like Sergio Martinez 27-pounds, which is unheard of."
Arum says it's a possible fight down the road, but he "wouldn't recommend it." I can't blame him, and I don't think this is a duck. We've talked about this plenty, but I'll say it again.
We're talking about a welterweight and a middleweight. Even if Martinez goes back to 154 (he's considering it), he'd have to come down even lower to fight Pacquiao. That's because Manny Pacquiao is, first and foremost, the star, and second, the one taking all the risk.
I'm certainly not saying I don't want to see the fight. I actually really want to see the fight, or see Floyd Mayweather fight Sergio Martinez. I think both are very interesting fights in that it's a great "little" man against a very good bigger fighter with a tricky style who has peaked in the last year and a half or so. If Sergio keeps winning, of course I'd like to see it.
But demanding it? I think that's a bit much. It would be a brave and arguably reckless decision for Pacquiao. Were he to fight Martinez, the risk should be admired, not expected.
Martinez is due back on October 1 against an opponent to be determined, while Pacquiao is slated to return on November 12, likely against old rival Juan Manuel Marquez.