The prevailing opinion from the media is that boxing got another black eye when Timothy Bradley Jr. was announced as a majority decision winner over Manny Pacquiao this past Saturday night in Las Vegas. Was the decision a bad decision? It absolutely was. Look, many of the rounds were competitive, but Bradley didn’t do enough in my book to steal those rounds away from the champion. But I wasn’t one of the three people judging the fight. Neither were many of you. Judging a boxing match is a very subjective thing. Let’s leave it at that. (I am being nice here.)
What I want to talk about is the notion that boxing is going to suffer because of this miscarriage of justice. Nothing – and I mean nothing – could be further from the truth. Boxing isn’t going to suffer. Not one bit.
Look at how much buzz Saturday night’s decision created. It has created more talk about boxing than I can recall in many years (probably since Mike Tyson fought Lennox Lewis). MMA may be gaining in popularity and it might very well be a better run sport than boxing is, but MMA has never gotten this kind of buzz. Ever.
There is no such thing as bad publicity, especially in boxing. I mean, look at how many supposed ‘black eyes’ the sport has received over the years. There are too many to count. And yet the sport survives. It endures. It lives on. It may not be as popular as it was when I was a kid. But it’s not like it’s going to disappear anytime soon.
The bottom line is that average fans still like to see the ‘Superfights.’ They will shell out large amounts of money to watch those fights on PPV. HBO and Top Rank boxing were charging over $65 for this past Saturday night’s fight. I’m sure they are not complaining over how many people tuned in on Saturday, or how much money they made. And you know what? They are about to make even more money.
Before Saturday night’s decision, the only fight people were clamoring to see was a Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight. There was literally no other match people were talking about. None. Now? Well, now it’s a different story.
Now people want to see a rematch between Pacquiao and Bradley. They want to see whether or not Bradley can beat Pacquiao again (even if he really didn’t beat him the first time). They want to see whether or not Pacquiao can come out and get revenge on Bradley.
The bottom line is that fans now have an alternative to a Pacquiao-Mayweather blockbuster. They have Bradley-Pacquiao II. It’s a fight that fans want. It’s a fight they will pay good money to see. It’s a fight that HBO and Top Rank will be more than happy to promote.
If Pacquiao wins the rematch, there are two ways he could go. He could try to make a fight with Mayweather (who is not a Top Rank promoted fighter). Or he could book a third fight with Bradley. Boxing loves trilogies. And a rubber match between the two would be very intriguing. Again, it would make a lot of money for a lot of people.
And if Bradley wins a Pacquiao rematch, he sets himself up for a possible fight with Mayweather in 2013. If Bradley wins the rematch, Bradley-Mayweather becomes the fight fans want to see. And if there is a hunger for it, there is money to be made. And money is the most important thing here.
For those casual boxing fans that may not know, Bob Arum is enjoying a comeback as a promoter. He, along with Don King, ruled the boxing world for many years. But that changed about six years ago. Arum lost Mayweather as one of his main attractions. Oscar De La Hoya got into the promoting business and pushed Arum into a background role.
Arum promotes Pacquiao and Bradley. That means he promotes two of the three biggest names in boxing. If he wants to do so, he can freeze Mayweather out and make a ton of money with his top two guys fighting each other in the trilogy I outlined earlier.
In other words, Arum doesn’t need Mayweather to make the kind of fight the fans want to see. He has the fighters he needs under his control. Arum, like Don King when he had Mike Tyson many years ago (and whatever happened to him by the way), is in the position where he is at the top of the mountain.
The notion that Saturday night was a black eye for boxing is, frankly, ridiculous. Why? Because it doesn’t matter how many black eyes the sport takes. The powers that be don’t care about black eyes. They care about making money.
And they are about to make a lot of it.