Editorial By John Gatling, Real Combat Media NY Boxing Correspondent
The cards are all over the table and the stage is set for Nov 5. But will Manny Pacquiao play or fold?
Following Terence Crawford’s uber-athletic rinsing of Viktor Postol
to become the ruler of the super lightweight division, the cattle call began for a duel between Crawford and the iconic former eight division world champion.
The newly elected senator now faces a decision that revolves around the politics of boxing and the man who has governed his career, as the events over the past few weeks have been classic Bob Arum.
First, by inserting Pacquiao into a Crawford/Postol situation no one was talking about, he was able to promote the fight for HBO PPV without costing the network a dime. They will re-air the fight this weekend while seasoning it with the salt and pepper approaching Pacquiao.
Whether all of this is a coincidence or not is debatable, but what cannot be questioned is the brilliance of Top Rank’s fading leader.
Arum, arguably the greatest elderly man of all-time, took a jet to the Philippines to meet with Pacquiao during the apex of the Crawford/Postol promotion.
Despite technology that would’ve put Pacquiao on a screen in front of his rocking chair, apparently, a face-to-face meeting was needed. This, after playing a few rounds of meaningless poker with Al Haymon.
Arum has long known of Pacquiao’s desire to face a bootleg version of Floyd Mayweather in Adrien Broner, and, of course, Pacquiao and Freddie Roach would salivate at the chance for Danny Garcia’s WBC welterweight belt.
So like a Don, he approached Haymon about the possibility of such bouts on his Premier Boxing Champions. In doing so, Arum was able to establish Pacquiao’s current market value after his non-title, PPV stinker with Timothy Bradley in April.
The set-up is obvious: Arum wants a Pacquiao vs. Crawford fight, and he’s offered it to Pacquiao at 140 lbs for the chance to reclaim super lightweight supremacy. A chance for more glory– which is more intoxicating for a legendary athlete than sex with a supermodel. Chances are, Crawford’s demand that the fight be at super lightweight was not his call at all.
Remember, Pacquiao has never truly been a welterweight. That he’s successfully competed and dominated at 147 has been a combination of timing and aberration. But it is at 140 that Pacquiao was at his most lethal, for the last time he was there he damn near killed Ricky Hatton in 2009.
These are all things Arum can and will tell Pacquiao as he decides how to play Nov. 5 in Vegas.
The narrative will also be about closing out his historic run with Roach, while providing the latter with some sort of redemption. Over the last four years, Roach has lost an alarming number of high profile fights, producing one-dimensional fighters without contingency plans. It was again on display, as Postol mailed things in mentally after round 5.
In a fight which was declared a pick em’ fight among experts, it was thought that the advantage could go to Postol because of Roach. It can now be argued that Postol was beaten [ because ] of Roach, and how specific he prepares his fighters to perform.
Roach, perhaps still shook from watching Postol drown at the hands of Crawford, cautiously told Steve Kim from boxingscene.com on Monday morning at his Wild Card Gym that he’s not sure if he wants a Pacquiao vs. Crawford showdown just yet.
“It’s a very tough match-up. Crawford showed that he could move for 12 rounds; he can run for 12 rounds,” sprayed Roach. “But y’know in between the running and so forth, when he does land punches, he lands really powerful punches. He hurt my guy a lot and I know Postol has a pretty good chin.”
Also expressing reservations was former Pacquiao trainer Rick Staheli, who guided a fearsome punching phenom version of Pacquiao to flyweight glory in 1998. In a conversation with Ronnie Nathanielsz for boxingscene.com, The Standard, Staheli indicated an older Pacquiao would have great difficulty dealing with Crawford’s movement. “I would expect Crawford to move like he did against Postol, so it’s not going to be easy for anybody to go out there and beat this guy,” said Staheli.
Crawford vs. Postol brought to my mind Floyd Mayweather vs. Diego Corrales in how unexpectedly one-sided it was. But whereas Mayweather – often accused of running during his career- stood right in the pocket to ruthlessly pick apart the late Corrales, Crawford figuratively ran to victory. It wasn’t the type of signature win that will endear him to casual fans, or more importantly, make a fight with Pacquiao a must see PPV event. In fact, if any of those younger fans the sport craves so much actually forked over $60 to see it, they may never want to see Crawford again – despite being in the opposite corner from Pacquiao.
Going in, I felt Crawford vs. Postol would be like watching a dream between Alexis Arguello and Pernell Whitaker. While the result may not have made that comparison fair, “Bud” is buzzing right now because he’s a meaner and more offensive version of Whitaker who isn’t as good defensively. All of which means Pacquiao vs. Crawford is perhaps the closest thing to finding out how “Pac-Man” would have fared against “Sweet Pea”.
Somebody is about to show their cards.
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