Star Wars

Star Wars
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Dec 3, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo Graphic © icheehuahua)

Star Wars - Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao
In a move met with many groans and hand-wringing last month, Lucasfilm was acquired by Disney for around four billion big ones in a galaxy not so far, far away, meaning we'll be seeing more films in the “Star Wars” franchise in the upcoming years. To many hardcore followers, this news was met with much derision as they have been subjected to the likes of Jar Jar Binks and “The Clone Wars” in recent years. In short, it was too much of a good thing and Obi-Wan Kenobi did not approve. Meanwhile, this Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the fourth chapter of the rivalry between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez takes place. Quite frankly, it’s a fight some have seen enough of and many more don't want to see again.
Sound familiar?
Make no doubt about it; despite the objections and loud outcries over the continued “Star Wars” saga, when these films come out, you'll see long lines of fans camping out for days at a time (personally, as someone who has seen “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” multiple times, I have no horse in this race as I never bothered to even watch the prequels). And regardless of what the critics and bloggers will say, these productions will do boffo box-office numbers. After all, it's the “Star Wars” franchise.
As for this weekend, there is a bit of fatigue as it relates to Pacquiao and his recycled cast of Top Rank opponents (since he starched Ricky Hatton in 2009, other than Shane Mosley, he has basically fought nothing more than foes who were also promoted by Bob Arum). And this match-up comes up a little more than a year after they last fought in November of 2011. If you dare read the boxing forums, Twitter timelines or any other social media platform, you hear cries that nobody is possibly interested in this latest installment of Pacquiao-Marquez and that, once again, that evil Darth Arum is ruining boxing. Boxing is funny in this way. The events that supposedly nobody wants to see are the ones that actually do well financially and the fights that supposedly have to happen for the good of the sport - and pound-for-pound ratings - are the ones held in half-filled Indian casino ballrooms that rarely make a ripple.
When it's all said and done, when the numbers are tallied up, you'll find Pacquiao's latest promotion will do within its usual range of pay-per-view buys (around a million or so, give or take a couple hundred thousand) and it will be among the highest live gates for the year. Like the “Star Wars” series, both fighters and this rivalry have built-in fan-bases that will support them en masse. Personally, I've called for fresh, new match-ups in boxing. I've dubbed the constant repeating of name-brand opponents the “‘Police Academy’-ing of boxing”, where you see a sort of round-robin of fights between certain fighters over and over again while young boxers are often left on the outside looking in and the business relatively stagnates.
Most every boxing fan has seen all 36 rounds of Pacquiao-Marquez and has been enthralled by what they've seen. Problem is as this trilogy has gone on, the action has waned. It's like they know each other so well, they can almost anticipate what each will do beforehand. It's like a longtime married couple who finish each other’s sentences.
When they initially hooked up in May of 2004, it was a memorable back-and-forth affair where Marquez had to dust himself off from three trips to the canvas in the first and battled back to earn a draw. The rematch took place almost four years later and, in a hotly debated split decision, the “Pac-Man” was given the verdict. The last meeting was thought to be a physical mismatch between Pacquiao - now a full-fledged welterweight - against the smaller Marquez. But Marquez, as he has done for the majority of rounds against his Filipino rival, controlled the pace of the fight and more than ever, was able to subdue the offensive outbursts and in the eyes of many, do more than enough to get his hands raised. Ultimately, it was another bitter defeat for the Mexican stylist.
So here we are again.
Whether this version of Pacquiao-Marquez is like the original “Star Wars,” “The Phantom Menace” or “Revenge of the Sith” remains to be seen.
Anyone else find this passive-aggressive war of words taking place between Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach and strength-and-conditioning coach Alex Ariza odd and fascinating? Both men are taking not-so-veiled shots at each other while doing their best to never actually mention specifically who they are speaking of. Roach has said clearly that he believes that strength-and-conditioning coaches have brought steroids into this sport (which is a blanket statement and unfair to many of them who do it within the confines of the rules) but the fact is, he just hired two more guys (Marvin Somodio and Rob Garcia) to help out in this capacity with his boxers at the Wild Card Boxing Club. Ariza has suddenly become the biggest advocate and defender of one Angel “Memo” Heredia (he of the very sketchy background). And yeah, who, above all, has clearly questioned the methods of Heredia leading up to this fight?
Freddie Roach.
It's interesting; while at the gym working with Pacquiao, the two work professionally and amicably with each other. It's kinda like a divorce where the parents at least put up a good front and get along in front of the children. In this case, that would be Pacquiao. They have to get along or keep the peace till at least next Saturday night. This whole scenario reminds me of the movie “War of the Roses” ( which featured a couple who had seen better days and was plotting for ways to get away from each other.
Bottom line is that both men tolerate each other because they have to. Hey, this Manny Pacquiao gig pays well; they really have no other choice for the time being.
Another interesting sidelight to this promotion is how Roach has stated he asked for more stringent drug testing leading up to this fight and how Arum resisted. The veteran promoter has gone on record as saying that nobody made this request. On this issue, he's gone as far as stating that Ariza, of all people, has vouched for him. This is the same Ariza Arum has been trying to get out of his, Pacquiao's and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.'s life for more than a year. I think both men in the past have painted themselves into a bit of a corner with their past stances on drug testing.
(Speaking of this issue, here's the latest edition of “The Soapbox”:
For the second consecutive week, we saw a franchise fighter go down in defeat and a robust market perhaps come to a close (for the time being). Last weekend, it was Ricky Hatton who was felled in his return to the ring in Manchester; this past Saturday night, Miguel Cotto was decisioned by Austin Trout over 12 rounds in front of his Puerto Rican partisans at the Madison Square Garden.
It wasn't two boxers who lost. It was two franchises who were important to the business of boxing.
And like Hatton, Cotto had become his own “promoter” and decided to make his own moves. For him, this included bypassing a much more lucrative payday in a rematch with Pacquiao to face Trout, who's biggest marketability is that he had one of those supposedly “meaningless” title trinkets (in this instance, the WBA 154-pound strap). And while he competed well in the early going, as the night wore on, you could practically see Cotto age in front of our eyes as he became bruised and bloodied in the second half of the fight. Trout, a stylish southpaw from New Mexico, asserted full control of the fight, not just with his size but his solid skill set.
Gone are visions of a rematch with Floyd Mayweather or a showdown with Saul Alvarez (regardless of what Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer says).
Now, who fills Madison Square Garden going into the future?
Showtime has announced that on December 15th, Leo Santa Cruz's defense of his IBF bantamweight crown will be shown on CBS, followed by a few fights on SHO Extreme and then the Amir Khan-Carlos Molina broadcast on Showtime. That's a full day of fisticuffs...Was Sal Sanchez II the worst opponent on HBO or Showtime in 2012? I mean, seriously, he was worse than Orlando Lora; right?...Speaking of the Garden, it's been made official. On January 19th, “The Theater” will host a good-looking HBO tripleheader  (Gennady Golovkin-Gabe Rosado, Orlando Salido-Mikey Garcia and J.C. Burgos-Rocky Martinez)...On that same night, Showtime (Devon Alexander-Kell Brook) and NBC Sports Network (Gabe Campillo-Sergey Kovalev) have their own cards...The SEC title game between ‘Bama and Georgia might have been the best college football game I saw in 2012...By the way, I think the Irish hang in there for all four quarters versus the Crimson Tide...Andrew Luck is better than advertised. Forget “Rookie of the Year” honors; he should get a few MVP votes...Mark Sanchez is a disaster, no other way to say it...Is Adrian Peterson even human?...How good is ABC’s “Nashville”? That show is money…

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