By Jason Pribila: Boxing got off to a slow start in 2010 due in part to injuries, cancellations, and the fear of counter-programming against the Winter Olympics. March was supposed to signal the unofficial start of the season. The month was highlighted by two of the game’s most dominant figures facing off against stiff competition. Instead, Manny Pacquaio and Wladimir Klitschko continued their dominance against foes that offered less return fire than mobile heavy bags. As we approach one of the sports busiest weekends in memory, kindly take one final look back at Pacquiao – Clottey: “The Event”.
5. The Top Rank Undercard: Bob Arum and his team did a brilliant job in turning “The Event” into a financial success. They had less than two months to sell their biggest star against a relative unknown, to an audience reluctant to accept anything less than Floyd Mayweather Jr. The live gate and PPV numbers speak for themselves.
However, they again failed miserably at putting together an acceptable undercard. They had the advantage of putting together a fight card at a venue that was going to attract new boxing fans. The preliminary bouts were contested in front of more than just the HBO crew and Press Row. When the time keeper signaled that there were 10 seconds left in a round, the clacking was drowned out by crowd noise, rather than echoing in an empty arena. When casual fans look at the TV and see fighters performing in front of a crowd, they are more likely to keep watching, rather than raiding my ice box.
This was another opportunity to cultivate the sport by introducing new fighters to a broad audience. This opportunity was wasted because the televised undercard was void of any fighters that the audience would remember or pay to see again.
4. Antonio Margarito: The disgraced former welterweight titlist hoped to make his ring return on the evening’s undercard. Thankfully the Texas Commission did not hold a hearing in time for Margarito to seek the return of his boxing license. Margarito was seen ringside at Cowboys Stadium, but failed to gain much support for his comeback or a potential future match-up against Pacquiao.
As boxing scribe Kevin Iole wrote, “Margarito, a guy who needs to show a little remorse for his suspension over illegal hand wraps, shows absolutely none.”
3. Island Fire Productions: The Company that tried to parlay Pacquiao’s ring victory into, “Manny Pacquiao Live in Hawaii Concert Celebration” fell about 1,900 tickets short of breaking even on their investment. Only 603 tickets were sold for the performance that was to be held at the 8,500 seat Waikiki Shell.
Perhaps music fans were deterred by the Pacquiao vocal styling’s that went viral on youtube.com? Not exactly, “video killed the radio star”, but pretty close.
2. Josh Clottey: After four rounds of Clottey hiding behind his high guard, he found some success by countering with his overhand right. For a brief moment, I thought Clottey was about spring a trap on the smaller man. I thought he tested Pacquiao’s power, gauged his speed, and he was ready to attack...any minute now….
There is no shame in losing to the sport’s consensus pound for pound #1 fighter. Miguel Cotto will next be seen fighting for a title in the Bronx, New York at Yankee Stadium. Ricky Hatton has yet to be turned away (or cut off) from a pub, despite being knocked out by Pacquiao last May.
When one fails to at least appear like he is trying to win a fight it is inexcusable. If that is the amount of effort put forth during ones golden opportunity, why would anyone possibly expect to see more from Clottey in the future.
Clottey is not finished, and I believe he could be a major factor at junior middleweight. I just don’t think he’ll be in position to turn down smaller paydays in the near future.
1. Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather: Pacquiao did his part, and if Mayweather beats Mosley the hype for a Pacquiao showdown will be even greater, right? Absolutely.
However, if one thinks that this fight is any closer to happening they are kidding themselves.
Pacquiao attracted almost 51,000 fans and 700,000 PPV buys. But that number, no matter how impressive, won’t eclipse the PPV numbers that Mayweather will take credit for against both Marquez and Mosley. And "Money" won’t be very likely to agree to a 50/50 split.
Also, the little squabble over blood testing will only be magnified by the fact that Mosley agreed to the Olympic-style format that Mayweather requested.
Not to mention, Mayweather has a rematch clause against Mosley If he loses on May 1. That’s a big "if".
5. John Duddy and Humberto Soto: While neither guy captured the imagination of fight fans during their victories on the televised portion of the undercard, they will each next fight at Yankee Stadium in support of Miguel Cotto – Yuri Foreman. While the Duddy fight will not be televised, he could end up an even bigger winner with a victory. The opportunity would remain alive for him to meet and defeat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. That victory would earn Duddy a nice paycheck, as well as the gratitude of boxing fans everywhere.
4. HBO PPV: There is no doubt 700,000 PPV buys will be sliced and diced in the coming weeks by rival promoters, Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions. The most important thing that the “Network of Champions” needs to remember is that March 13 was the first PPV of the year, and May 1 will be the next major PPV that they put their marketing muscle behind. Once again, less is more. Fight fans will open their wallets during any economic climate if they are only asked to do so once a quarter.
3. Manny Pacquiao: A prime Mike Tyson heard boos from the crowd when he was matched with a reluctant James “Bone Crusher” Smith. Pacquiao did everything he could with what he had in front of him. He once again agreed to take on the biggest challenge available, and along the way he proved that he could carry a promotion without a known B-side.
2. Mayweather – Mosley: Thanks to Joshua Clottey, the battle for welterweight supremacy does not have a tough act to follow. “Pretty Sweet” will take place on a weekend that is traditionally strong for boxing, and will have the benefit of an HBO “24/7” to help promote it. Not to mention that the two minutes it takes to run the 136th Edition of the Kentucky Derby will provide sports fans with more thrills than most PPV undercards.
1. Dallas Cowboys Stadium: Owner Jerry Jones opened his wallet and succeeded in proving that his $1.2 billion playground is the premiere venue to hold a major sporting event. Any athlete, at any level, experiences a thrill the first time they see themselves on TV. Now, elite athletes will strive to see themselves on the stadium’s 72-foot tall screen.
Texas boxing fans have set a high standard for other cities that are hoping to bring major fights back to their hometowns. Like any sporting event, the live experience offers fans a different perspective. Placing those events in venues that are big enough to ensure that average fans will have access to affordable tickets is the most positive sign for the sport’s growth since it left Network television.
Jerry Jones even made it more difficult for some sports fans to hate the Cowboys. Difficult, but not impossible.
Honorable Mention: Steve Centalonza
Steve is an old friend and diehard boxing fan. A guy that I could count on to discuss boxing at anytime during the week, and one of the few on my email list that have yet to report my work as SPAM.
“The Event” was to be extra special for Steve because it would be the first fight he would get to view in his recently finished “man-cave”. Two hours before HBO PPV would go live, the unthinkable happened. A massive wind and rain storm left many in its path, including Steve, without power and/or cable. A Customer Service rep confirmed that the storm was so bad that they did not expect the cable to be repaired until the next morning.
Soon Steve found himself en route to a relative’s house. He drove through 50 mph winds, avoided fallen tree branches, and ignored the fact that the waves along the beach were threatening to flood the streets. He pressed onward, thinking only of ordering the fight, and keeping his hands on the steering wheel in the “10 and 2” position. Steve arrived safely just in time for the opening bout of the evening.
This story is not uncommon in the fight community. Fans of this wonderful sport make sacrifices all the time, and not just financially. Wedding receptions and birthday parties are frequently skipped when they compete with a big fight. Events are not remembered by their dates, but rather by what fight also took place that night.
Boxing fans are forced to defend their devotion to families, friends, and significant others all the time; simply because they could never risk not witnessing the next Gatti-Ward or Vazquez – Marquez.
Imagine if we were ever repaid with more than just the Main Event?