According to just about everyone with any knowledge, the businessmen, hangers-on, and the rest of the folks around Manny Pacquiao are once again squabbling, though as usual it doesn't seem to actually be bothering Manny himself.
Michael Marley has been all over this story (as he's usually all over anything Pacquiao-related). Here are a few key points:
- There are still a lot of rumors that Michael Koncz is on his way out. Bob Arum says that Pacquiao's lawyer Franklin Gacal is stirring up much of this, with MP8.com web site operator Timothy James Sladeck involved and going head-to-head with Koncz, who he has openly criticized and even insulted, though not in any particularly harsh manner. Nothing Sladeck has said about Koncz hasn't been said before.
- Arum says he trusts Koncz ("he's a very honest guy") but sounds a lot less trustworthy of Gacal or Sladeck. Sladeck (and perhaps Gacal) believe Koncz is a puppet for Arum.
- Longtime boxing adviser Jose Castillo is involved as a potential replacement on the team for Koncz. He is "aligned with" the Sladeck/Gacal side, and used to work with Marco Antonio Barrera and Edwin Valero. Castillo once sued Barrera, but got nothing.
- Sladeck is, according to Marley, an ex-con with what appear to be shadier intentions than his stated goal of just running the web site. I have no idea who Sladeck is beyond what's being talked about by Marley and Arum seeming fairly dismissive of his presence, but Arum is fairly dismissive of a lot of things. Conference calls, for example. He hates them.
- Pacquiao is being audited for 2006 and 2007 taxes in the U.S., but Arum says it's nothing to worry about and mostly a formality that will give Manny money, not take any from him. Official documents in the Philippines say Manny has a net worth of "only" $26 million, for whatever that's worth.
The net worth and tax issues are not something I'm that interested in right now. He's still in good shape financially and Arum says that he also owns a lot of property that he's not sure is being accounted for, and whatever. Still, I would be a little surprised if he's actually got a lot more than that, as Arum says he does. Pacquiao spends a lot of money. And a lot of it goes to good causes. Some of it goes to extravagance, and some of it goes to things that probably aren't necessary at all. It happens. He's a world-famous sporting icon. He likes nice stuff, and he's got an army on his payroll.
What does surprise me is that stuff like this keeps happening. I mean, I guess it doesn't surprise me, but it's a bit troublesome. Doesn't it seem like someone in Manny Pacquiao's shoes shouldn't be dealing with these issues? Arum mentioned Muhammad Ali's weird entourage as a comparison, but fighters have learned a lot over the years, and generally speaking seem to have gotten a little smarter about their money and where it's going, and about the guys hanging around them. Not all of them, and maybe not even a majority of them, but it just seems like it's better than it used to be among the top names at least.
But Pacquiao has this constant in-fighting and squabbling going on, and to be honest, a lot of these men really don't need to be there. This is about the fifth time that Koncz has been involved with some kind of controversy in the Pacquiao camp, and Jacal has had a few himself, usually involving Koncz. If this were a movie, and Manny were more cold, he'd probably just fire them both and replace them with people who shut up and do their jobs for the multi-millionaire who has made them semi-famous just by hanging around him.
It makes you wonder if there's really any captain of this ship. Years of lost endorsements and screw-ups by a mass of leeches resulted in Top Rank finally getting him someone who can properly handle that stuff, and you have to wonder if Arum's brain doesn't about melt with all this stuff, no matter how cool he plays it. It really seems like a lot of this is just nonsense that Pacquiao should not tolerate. He's a global superstar in 2011, why is he bothering all this turmoil around him?
Of course, maybe he's not really bothering with it at all, which may be the problem, or his only shield-like solution.