On June 9, 2012, in Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao was robbed. Or at least that was the prevailing thought that night, and into the following days, as a crazy, worldwide outrage erupted. Sure, Timothy Bradley -- who got the win that night at the MGM Grand -- gained a few more supporters in the week to come, with many changing their tune about robbery, or at least toning down their anger, but for the most part, the agreement out there was Manny Pacquiao deserved the win on June 9, and Timothy Bradley got it.
Bob Arum promoted that fight, as he has promoted countless others over his long, illustrious, controversial, and above all highly-profitable career as one of the premier carnival barkers in prize fighting. One of the keys to being a great promoter, maybe the greatest key of all, is lying -- or to put it in nicer terms, coaxing your target audience to believe you're offering them something better than you really are.
This is not exclusive to Bob Arum. Don King did it. The men before them did it. Younger guns like Richard Schaefer, Dan Goossen, Gary Shaw, Lou DiBella all do it. Dana White and UFC do it. Vince McMahon does it, his dad (who promoted boxing as well as pro wrestling) did it. It's not offensive or anything, at least not to me because I'm used to it -- it's just a reality.
Promoting boxing is also largely about risk vs reward. You want the highest reward with the least risk for your fighters, especially your cash cows. Sometimes you have a fight that must happen, high-risk, high-reward. Usually, it does happen, with the iron as hot as it can get, though nowadays even that is questionable with the absence of Mayweather vs Pacquiao in the last three years.
After the decision on June 9, Arum performed a nice dance at the post-fight press conference podium. During his speech, he did some slight comedy, made some angry faces, rambled a bit, and most important, he declared the night a "death knell" for the sport of boxing.
Strong words. He declared his sport, as we know it today, to be dead. Finally, after years of hack sportswriters hammering home the same dumbass, worn-out "point," one of boxing's own made the leap. It was all over. The death knell.
Arum then demanded an investigation from the Nevada attorney general. Two nights ago on The Fight Game with Jim Lampley, Top Rank's Todd duBoef -- who didn't make a peep in April when his boy Brandon Rios robbed Richard Abril -- pushed for the good fight, a crusade to make it all better, man.
Also on Saturday, June 16, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr defeated Andy Lee via emphatic stoppage in El Paso, Texas, a state with an athletic commission considered by many to be the worst of the major commissions running boxing events, which is saying quite a bit. Arum, who has been around long enough to know what's what, knows the reputation of Texas, and yet Chavez has fought three straight bouts there. One wonders if he really cares much about any of that.
Still, boxing was dead. Then, after the Chavez win, seven whole days after the Death Knell in Nevada, Bob Arum announced three things:
- Julio Cesar Chavez Jr would fight Sergio Martinez on September 15.
- It would be on pay-per-view, so get your 60 bucks ready again.
- It would be in Las Vegas.
Not a week ago, Bob Arum wanted a high-profile fight in Las Vegasinvestigated by the attorney general, in a fight that killed boxing, he said. And then he announced another pay-per-view fight, in Las Vegas.
They're hoping that with one JCC Jr TKO, you've forgotten the Death Knell. We always knew, really, that most people who swore off the boxing would be back, sooner or later. But this is really soon to assume that everyone was chomping at the bit to be asked for another $60 in a few months. Oh, and two months later, Manny Pacquiao will fight on PPV again, too.
It's a miracle, I guess. At least on the ICP level of miracles (audio NSFW on that link).
Seven days after its death, boxing was resurrected, not by a good fight (and it was a good fight), but by the man who promoted it. All he had to do was wave his magic wand, and presto! Abracadabra! The sport was again healthy, the Nevada commission and judges trustworthy enough to revisit in September.
Maybe we won't really need that investigation after all. Maybe it's just one of those things they're promoting.