Column: Gay Marriage Flap May Sell Pacquiao Fight
The guy he really should be boxing will be in a jail cell when Manny Pacquiao enters the ring next, not that it’s the furious little fighter’s fault. Neither was the faux uproar that erupted when shoddy journalism and the rush to judgment collided with predictable results.
This is boxing, though, and things happen. Sometimes they even happen for a reason, though it’s hard to believe Pacquiao tried to insert himself into the debate over gay marriage in the hope it would sell a few more pay-per-views for his June 9 fight against Timothy Bradley.
The crazy thing is, it just might.
"It may very well resonate with people," promoter Bob Arum said. "We have so many evangelical Christians living in this country that have paid attention to this whole thing. Some of these people would never think of buying a fight and they might buy it, I don’t know. It certainly isn’t what was intended."
On that, I have to give Arum a pass. He’s been promoting fights for the better part of a half century and done some silly things to sell tickets, but even he wouldn’t have been able to dream up a scheme to get this fight in the news by having Pacquiao seem to disparage gays as well as gay marriage.
I’ll also give him a pass on the Mayweather fight that never happens because I’ve grown convinced that Mayweather simply doesn’t want to fight Pacquiao. Not with a 50 percent cut of proceeds from the richest fight ever, and not even if Arum comes through on a plan to build a 40,000 seat outdoor arena on the Las Vegas Strip.
The whole thing is getting a bit stale anyway. Both fighters are edging toward the end of their careers and, with Mayweather heading to jail and Pacquiao concentrating on politics, a date next spring will probably be the last hope for a fight that fans have been desperate for the last few years. There’s a chance they could meet after that, but by then both will be past their primes and the fight won’t be nearly as meaningful - or as lucrative.
Instead we get Mayweather and Pacquiao twice a year against opponents who aren’t nearly as significant or interesting. Bradley may be undefeated and a fine family man - both traits that HBO will showcase on "24/7" - but it’s as hard to justify spending $64.95 to watch him fight Pacquiao as it was to spend the same kind of money to see Mayweather against a slow and very hittable Miguel Cotto.
Arum understands that, just as he understands that Pacquiao is under pressure to sell the same 1.5 million pay-per-view buys that Mayweather generated against Cotto last month - if only to show Mayweather that he should be a 50-50 partner in any purse split should they somehow put aside their other differences. To have people talking about Pacquiao weeks before the fight is a promoter’s dream, no matter what they’re saying.