You just have to know the business of boxing to understand what words and declarations mean when tossed about for public consumption. What’s said is rarely what’s meant. And those in charge of selling the fights– the promoters, managers, and often the fighters themselves– use statements made to the media as lures, distraction, and/or flat-out misdirection.
So, in other words, don’t believe anything you hear or read in the world of boxing– especially when it’s related to matchmaking.
Even Manny Pacquiao is not exempt from this dynamic.
The Filipino icon and future first-ballot Hall of Famer recently made headlines with an offer made to promoter Bob Arum regarding a bout with WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford.
“I like to fight somebody who has a title,” Pacquiao told the Daily Tribune. “We told Bob [Arum] I get $40 million and Crawford gets $10 million…I will fight anybody. You know me, I don’t back away from any challenge. Bring ‘em on!”
First– was that actually Pacquiao talking? Second– If these words DID actually come from Manny’s mouth, directly, they sure don’t match the pattern of Crawford avoidance shown for years, since both were Arum/Top Rank promotional stablemates.
When both Pacquiao and Crawford were fighting under the Top Rank banner, Pacquiao absolutely wanted nothing to do with the just-emerging Crawford, who had unified the four titles at junior welterweight and was on the road to a world title at welterweight. Back then, Pacquiao-Crawford could’ve easily been made. Knowledgeable fight fans were actually clamoring for it. The pairing was seen as a classic old master vs. young gun matchup and a possible passing of the torch bout to an emerging star in Crawford.
But Pacquiao-Crawford never happened back then. The buzz said that the fight never materialized because Pacquiao didn’t want it. Even Arum, himself, hinted at Pacquiao’s unwillingness to meet this challenge which presented an unfavorable risk vs. reward proposition for the established superstar.
Then, when Pacquiao first embraced free agency, he had another chance to grasp at a Crawford bout. Crawford had earned a spot as, arguably, the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport and was emerging as a possible breakthrough star. But Pacquiao avoided any mention of a Crawford clash, instead pursuing much less tasking bouts with Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner.
Now, Pacquiao claims to be all-in when it comes to a Crawford bout. All-in, provided he can make some major bank in a payday that just may be impossible right now in this Covid-gripped world.
Barring some crazy Middle East site fee (significantly above the reported $40 million issued for Anthony Joshua vs. John Ruiz 2 back in December of 2019), there’s no way to put together the proposed $50 million main event purse right now. With in-person attendance limited and pay-per-view aching, asking for that kind of money is a deal killer.
And, maybe, that’s what Pacquiao is going for?
With Conor McGregor having been knocked out in the UFC Octagon recently, Errol Spence likely pursuing a unification bout with new WBA full champ Yordenis Ugas, and the rumored Ryan Garcia match disintegrating by the moment, the stars have aligned to make a Crawford fight the only legitimate blockbuster for Manny. And what Pacquiao knew in the past is what he still knows now– that Crawford is a stylistic disaster for him.
So, maybe, possibly, he’s getting himself out of a tight spot by pricing himself out of the fight.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a top fighter has done something like this. It’s actually pretty common. There’s no real shame in Manny deciding, at 42 years of age, that there’s just no logic behind launching himself from the frying pan, into the fire.
If everything plays out true to boxing matchmaking form, expect some more bluster about a big-money Crawford clash before things fizzle out and Manny takes on an easier task for a more modest payday.
Hopefully, thing’s DON’T play out true to boxing form, though. Pacquiao-Crawford would be stellar.