Friday, March 24, 2023  |


Weekend Review: More Pacquiao-Mayweather disappointment


Carlos Abregu said he injured his right hand during training for his fight against Timothy Bradley on Saturday but seems to be enduring the pain here. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

Pacquiao-Mayweather: This reminds me of the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, which wiped out the World Series that year. Angry fans vowed to boycott their beloved sport the following season rather than line the pockets of players and owners who had betrayed them. Only time and the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run race healed the wounds. Boxing is facing a similar situation. Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. could put their differences aside and make the fight everyone is dying to see but have failed to do so twice. And the fans are livid. Maybe Mayweather doesn’t want to face the prospect of fighting without his trainer. Maybe they still can’t agree on blood testing. The fans don’t care. They just want to see the fight. The fact they can’t bolsters the perception that boxing is a dying sport. And it’s only killing itself.

Mayweather: The elusive one – in and out of the ring – told The Associated Press at a charity basketball game Saturday in Miami that “I’m not interested in rushing to do anything. ÔǪ I’m not really thinking about boxing right now. I’m just relaxing. I fought about 60 days ago, so I’m just enjoying myself, enjoying life, enjoying my family and enjoying my vacation.” Great. He’s enjoying life and fans who are dying to see the most-compelling matchup in the sport are disgusted. Would it really be so horrible if Mayweather were to explain his position? Then the fans might have some degree of sympathy and patience. As it is, with the fight seemingly off and everyone in the dark, they have only a large degree of frustration.

Antonio Margarito: Promoter Bob Arum has been criticized for limiting Pacquiao’s potential opponents to Margarito and Miguel Cotto, both of whom are promoted by Arum. The basis for the criticism is sound: The best should fight the best regardless of promoter. However, in this case, Margarito might very well be the best option from both marketing and entertainment perspectives. Margarito is a big name, he has a large fan base among Mexicans and he is controversial because of his hand-wrap scandal, which would help — not hurt — the promotion. He also has an exciting style that should make for a fun fight to watch. He would come straight at Pacquiao, come what may. It’s hard to ask for much more than that if Pacquiao-Mayweather cant’ be made.

Keeping fights in-house: Arum was asked on a conference call why he doesn’t consider a talented fighter such as Timothy Bradley, who is promoted by Gary Shaw, a viable opponent for Pacquiao. His response: He invests a lot of money to build his fighters into pay-per-view attractions and doesn’t want other promoters — who he said “don’t really promote their fighters” — to step in and benefit from his investment. “I won’t let them free ride on the work we’ve done.” In other words, he wants to keep fights in house. That strategy – which seems to be shared by Golden Boy Promotions — could deprive fans of the best-possible fights. Example: Who wants to see Pacquiao fight Cotto again? That’s a horrible matchup. Arum should look outside his own stable to deliver the best product if Margarito isn’t the choice. That could pay off in the long run.

Timothy Bradley: THE RING’s No. 1-rated junior welterweight beat a natural and unbeaten welterweight in Carlos Abregu on Saturday in Rancho Mirage, Calif., which was a solid accomplishment. He didn’t dominate the relatively untested Argentine on his first appearance on HBO as many expected, which probably didn’t help his reputation. He demonstrated the same kind of grit he showed in his come-from-behind victory over Kendall Holt, though. Abregu is a big, tough guy with surprisingly impressive skills yet he couldn’t overcome the smaller hometown favorite. Bradley is both gifted and extremely determined, which will make him very tough to beat even when he doesn’t have his best night.

Carlos Abregu: The relatively unknown Argentine, who entered the ring undefeated, actually demonstrated that he’s anything but a loser against Bradley. He gave one of the most-talented young fighters in the world a tough time in that fighter’s backyard, with a packed house rooting against him. And, if we believe that he came into the fight with an injured right hand, he was particularly impressive. Bradley acknowledged that Abregu surprised him with his skills and called him “a tough, tough opponent.” Abregu lost a fight but probably enhanced his reputation. Anyone could see that this guy is tough and knows how to fight.

Zab Judah: Judah came up with a creative idea when he decided to move down from 147 to 140, where he hopes to become a factor among a handful of compelling young junior welterweights. And he seemed to serve notice on Friday night that he’s a legitimate threat, stopping capable Jose Armando Santa Cruz in three rounds as a result of a devastating uppercut. The five-time titleholder is 32 and probably past his prime but his combination of skills and experience — plus added power at the lower weight class — make him an intriguing addition to an already-deep division. Now he can only hope to actually one or two into the ring, which will be no easy task.

David Tua: The wide-bodied heavyweight, making a comeback after a two-year hiatus, was supposed to beat a faded Monte Barrett in his quest for an elusive heavyweight title. Instead, the 37-year-old Kiwi was lucky to come away with a draw after suffering the first knockdown in his career and a point deduction in a wild 12th round Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J. This doesn’t necessarily dash Tua’s dreams of wearing a major belt but failing to beat a 39-year-old who had lost his three previous fights was a significant step backward. No one will be quite as excited about his comeback now. Only one or two spectacular knockouts can change that.

Fernando Guerrero: The Dominican-born middleweight prospect struggled mightily to beat tough, but limited veteran Ishe Smith on Friday in Southhaven, Miss., having to get up from an eighth-round knockdown to win a decision. On one hand, Guerrero probably didn’t enhance his reputation. On the other, it seems all successful fighters engage in such a battle as they rise into title contention — one that tests their ability to overcome adversity and come out with a victory. Guerrero passed that test. No one knows how far he’ll go but he most likely learned a great deal on Friday, which should help him along the way.

Gary Shaw: “What we have right now in boxing is two leagues ÔǪ Golden Boy and Top Rank. They only want to their fighters to fight their fighters. They don’t want to take a chance against the best in the world. ÔǪ This is bad for boxing. What’s good for boxing is fighters willing to fight the best.”

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]