There’s an old adage— or at least a song lyric— made famous based on its rather proud and unapologetic boast of “you’ve got to give the people what they want.”
Whatever you make of the fiasco that was the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley split decision, you have to admit the Sin City, cramp-shoot-of-a-verdict conceivably puts us that much closer to the Pacman vs. Money brawl for it all we’ve long been sold on.
From there, it’s almost as if the script writes itself. As with Saturday night’s initial battle, the venue could easily be the MGM Grand, the headliners could again be Pacquiao and Bradley squaring off in a winner takes-all rematch and the occasion could be… Wrestlemania XXIX.
At the height of the action, or, more to the point, a repeat onslaught of one of the many flurries Pacquiao landed with such regularity during Act 1, Mayweather— fresh off his commuted release from a 90 day prison sentence for domestic battery— could climb into the ring and drop a distracted Pacman with one of his patented left/right combinations.
For good measure, Roger Mayweather Sr., could then bang him over the dome with a steel-plated chair as he staggers to his feet and tries to get at Floyd Jr., all the while staring down the crowd and shouting expletives through his always at the ready megaphone.
Let’s face it, the WBC has now morphed into the WWE, and that sobering reality was never made more clearly than during Pacquiao and Bradley’s fraud of a brawl just last weekend.
The tragedy in it all is no one bothered to tell the nearly 15,000 fans who packed the MGM Grand Saturday night expecting to revel in the ways of the sweet science. Same deal for all the millions more who peeled off so heavily to view it via close circuit TV or on pay-per-view.
So raw was the deal that Bob Arum, promoter for both Pacquiao and Bradley and the man conspiracy theorists widely label as the one who stands to gain the most from such orchestrated chicanery, has emerged as the voice of all solace and reasoning— almost convincingly.
“The public has a right to know what happened; the fighters have a right to know,” preached Arum. “What the hell were these referees watching? Nobody who knows anything about boxing could have Bradley ahead in the fight. The only way to restore fans’ confidence in boxing is by letting an independent body investigate every detail of the fight. This is fucking nuts.”
So much so that sleeping giants such as former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis, a man who has rarely been seen or heard from since he willfully relinquished his title and walked away from the game nearly a decade ago, felt compelled to weigh in via Twitter.
“Pac won the fight. Bradley won the decision. Arum won another payday. Boxing lost its integrity and the fans lost confidence,” Lewis tweeted.
Indeed, only a sport as scandalized as boxing could find a way to again discredit itself even on a night when one of its headline fighters battled so relentlessly he grappled nearly the whole bout on just one leg largely because he wanted to assure he gave fans their money’s worth.
Somewhere around round 2, Bradley suffered a fractured left foot and a round or two later a severe right ankle sprain.
And yet, it doesn’t help that in the weeks leading up to the bout Bradley was already openly talking of a rematch, going as far as to pinpoint a prospective date (Nov. 10) and even having posters made up and a phony ticket printed billing the fight.
Either way, ‘Money Mayweather’ soon figures to be, well, in the money. Be it the manifestation of the Pacman bout we’ve all been clamoring for or now an almost equally compelling match against Bradley, the hype machine is already churning, already grinding to the point of wiping away all the blemishes posed by last week’s disaster and securing yet another mega payday for all its headliners.
Early this week, Mayweather’s lawyers seemingly began to set the stage by filing an emergency motion contending his health is greatly deteriorating by being locked away in solitary confinement some 23 hours a day, thereby damaging his psyche to the point he may never be able to resurrect his career. The request was denied.
Alas, whatever will be will be. Yet in the end, you can’t help but feel both the joke and the real strains appear to be most on us— the buying public— as we continue to support and bankroll a sport that nowadays doesn’t even seem to be sure what it makes of itself or what it is they’d have it offer us.
Glenn Minnis is a veteran sports and culture writer who has contributed to the likes of ESPN, Vibe and the NFL Magazine. He has also been on staff at AOL Sports, the Chicago Tribune and was the founding sports editor for 360HipHop.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.