By Ivan G. Goldman
Perhaps it’s fitting that what was mislabeled as the “fight of the century” was already mired in controversy minutes after the scores were read Saturday night. We ended up with precisely what we couldn’t afford — a $500 million contest that was improperly handled and gave off the pungent odor of yet another scam.
The Nevada commission in charge likes to put on ultra-professional airs, but alas, its functionaries invite comparisons to Homer Simpson drinking hot coffee over the controls of a nuclear power plant.
We waited five years for this?
Manny Pacquiao apparently entered the ring to tangle with Floyd Mayweather, the most formidable fisticator in the world — with a bum shoulder – one he’d known about for weeks. Thanks to miscommunications and other downright stupidities, the Nevada commission ruled Pacquiao couldn’t get the pain-killing injection he thought had already been approved.
Seems the anti-doping agency that said the shot would be fine (he’d been taking them and dutifully reporting them during training) didn’t dot all its i’s and cross all its t’s the way the Nevada commission wanted them. Nor did the fighters’ team, which had disclosed the substances he was taking but not the injury itself – a torn rotator cuff.
All these players share blame, including Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum, who sat on the information with inscrutable calm. Note, however, that Mayweather and his team did their jobs and earned their victory. Once you enter that ring, there are no excuses.
Meanwhile the U.S. pay-per-view buys still being counted were soaring unofficially over 4 million and smashing the previous record of 2.48 million for Mayweather versus Oscar De La Hoya. Mayweather-Pacquiao became a cultural icon. If you didn’t see it live you were outside the culture, a dweeb, a dummy, a loser. At least that was the attitude before the opening bell.
What then ensued were 12 typical Mayweather rounds that featured Floyd’s super-adept use of distance, speed, and tempo against a befuddled opponent. In this case, the opponent apparently couldn’t throw his prized right hook. His right was perhaps 60 percent effective thanks to his injury, southpaw Pacquiao said afterward.
By the end of the contest plenty of purchasers wondered if it was really a good idea to down all those Margaritas before they started pressing those buttons to order a fight that, charitably speaking, might have been slightly better than average.
Isn’t it funny how you don’t see the PPV price until the last minute? It’s routinely banned from advertisements.
One can only guess at the feelings of those who’d paid hundreds of thousands for ringside seats in the scalpers bazaar. Full-fledged celebrities actually had to pay too — but only the sums printed on the tickets – a mere $10,000 trifle to Ben Affleck, Robert DeNiro, etc.
Was it worth the trip to Las Vegas? We’re unlikely to hear DeNiro’s opinion. He’s almost but not quite as reclusive as Mayweather’s hermit manager/adviser Al Haymon.
Witnesses who’ve actually spent time with DeNiro tell us he doesn’t say much because he has nothing much to say. But I digress.
State commissions tend to resent anti-doping agencies. Their very existence is proof that the commissions themselves aren’t doing all they should to prevent fighters from using banned performance-enhancing drugs.
So relations between these agencies can get downright frosty, particularly when you’re talking about the undeservedly proud Nevada commission, which, according to the California Attorney General’s Office, let Antonio Margarito slip past its inspectors with loaded wraps under his gloves when he stopped gallant Miguel Cotto.
The commission denies it. But note that it was California, not Nevada, that ultimately caught Margarito and his cheating trainer Javier Capetillo.
Pacquiao is a nice, charitable guy and likes to think of himself as fan-friendly. But a truly fan-friendly fighter would have handled this mess differently. He could, as I suggested in another article, have defied the commission, taken the injection, and let the commissioners make their own decisions. You can bet the fight would have still taken place.
But the bigger mistakes were made in the weeks leading up to the contest.
Big fights can be postponed. When George Foreman suffered a cut in training, the 1974 “Rumble in the Jungle” against Muhammad Ali was postponed for a month, and that was after both camps and much of the press corps were already in place in Zaire.
Anyway, the Mayweather-Pacquiao flop has moved on to the next stage.
They’re counting the money.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available now from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.