Feud between Top Rank, Golden Boy clouds Pacquiao's future
LAS VEGAS -- Minutes after Manny Pacquiao's lopsided decision win over Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden on Saturday -- a thoroughly uninspired performance that had little to do with Pacquiao and everything to do with a faded Mosley -- Top Rank promoter Bob Arum walked over to press row and offered another piece of discomforting news:
A list of of Pacquiao's potential opponents.
At the top of Arum's list is Juan Manuel Marquez, the unified lightweight champion who has already given Pacquiao all he could handle in two hotly contested fights. Marquez is aging (37) but his performances last year (a one-sided wipeout of Juan Diaz and a ninth-round knockout of Michael Katsidis) suggest he is still at the top of his game. Arum said he planned on submitting a revised offer to Marquez on Monday -- believed to be a guarantee of between $5 and $8 million -- and wait for a response.
"[Marquez] is a very smart fighter with a lot of [heart]," said Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach. "The last two fights were good for boxing and I think another fight would be good for boxing, too."
There is one obstacle in making a fight with Marquez: Golden Boy, Marquez's former promoter, which has the right to match any offer through next March. The company is reportedly working on a similar money deal for Marquez to take on rising Mexican star Saul Alvarez. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told SI.com on Monday afternoon that he had yet to receive a new offer for Marquez and declined further comment.
Marquez is a qualified candidate to fight Pacquiao. The others on Arum's list -- junior welterweight titleholders Timothy Bradley and Zab Judah -- are, well, not.
Bradley (27-0) is a solid fighter who staked his claim to the top spot in boxing's 140-pound division with his win over Devon Alexander in January. But Bradley also has a questionable chin (he was dropped twice in a win over Kendall Holt) and little power (11 knockouts) and with his straight-ahead style it's hard to see him standing up to Pacquiao's relentless assault.
Judah (41-6) has won two straight fights since dropping down to 140 pounds. He has a name and a decent pedigree (he was once the unified welterweight champion). But he has struggled in many of his recent high-profile fights (losses to Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and Joshua Clottey) and has a history of fading in the later rounds.
Arum contends that no one in the 140- or 147-pound weight classes can compete with Pacquiao. And he may be right. But there are other qualified candidates that Arum seems content to ignore. There's Victor Ortiz, who established himself as an elite welterweight with a brutal (and entertaining) win over Andre Berto last month. There's Amir Khan, another alphabet 140-pound champion who is one of the few fighters in the world who can match Pacquiao's hand speed.
Arum won't consider Ortiz or Khan, however, for the same reason he won't seek out a co-promotion deal with Marquez: Their relationship with Golden Boy. Pacquiao is currently embroiled in a defamation lawsuit against Schaefer and Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya over comments they made suggesting Pacquiao could be using performance-enhancing drugs. Arum says he won't consider working with Golden Boy again until they make a public apology to Pacquiao.
"They defamed him," Arum said. "This isn't a Bob Arum-Richard Schaefer thing. It's about what they said about Manny Pacquiao."
Don't expect that apology to come anytime soon. Top Rank and Golden Boy have been at war for years, a conflict that has prevented some compelling matchups. Some of them involve Pacquiao. As the well of viable candidates continues to dry up, it becomes that much more important to seek out every available option. Pacquiao is a twice-a-year fighter. His fights have become events that trend on Twitter, light up Facebook and have even the most casual of fans buzzing. It would be a shame to waste those nights with more opponents like Mosley, particularly if there are other more compelling matchups on the table.