Bob Arum, if anything, has done a masterful job of guiding Manny Pacquiao's career and thereby securing his legacy.
Now, you may be wondering, how is he doing a fantastic job of securing his legacy when Pacquiao is fighting questionable opposition under questionable arrangements ?
It's exactly that my friends. It's exactly that.
Pacquiao has repeatedly been matched up favorably against the right opponents at the right time. Practically all of these have been easy sales as events, as the other fighter has had a name and a fan base. Years from now, no one will bother arguing about the circumstances...they will simply say, he conquered Barrera, Morales, Marquez, Hatton, Cotto, De La Hoya and Margarito. Over time, the details seem to get lost in translation.
The idea at this point in time is and has been for years, to generate the greatest revenue at the lowest possible cost. So what does this mean ?
Once Pacquiao breaks down and disposes of a past-his-best Juan Manuel Marquez, there will be rumors of cursory discussions between Top Rank and Golden Boy, but that's all that will come of it.
Next year, sometime in the second quarter of 2012, Manny Pacquiao will face Timothy Bradley.
Bob Arum will contend that Floyd Mayweather's legal troubles and impending court dates are too much of a hindrance..."Mayweather should have bigger things on his mind than boxing", Arum will say.
Bradley will be sold as the anti-Mayweather. A polite, well spoken black guy, a family guy trying to do things "the right way". He will tow the company line about the honor of fighting Pacquiao but expressing quiet confidence that he has what it takes to win. They'll pump up his unbeaten record, and also the idea that he's taken all comers at 140 lbs.
He will then step into the ring and be overwhelmed by Pacquiao. He's a fighter with limited, unrefined offense who simply will not be able to capitalize on mistakes Pacquiao makes in the ring. Pacquiao will tear him apart from distance using angles and combinations that Bradley has likely never seen before. What few shots Bradley will land, will have no stopping power whatsoever, a shortcoming evident from his anemic KO %. Pacquiao will collect $25 MM for the fight and be on his way.
A similar cycle of events will follow in cursory discussions taking place with Golden Boy, and once again, nothing resulting.
In the fall/early winter of 2012, Manny Pacquiao will step into the ring to face Brandon Rios.
Rios, at 5'9" and 26 years of age, and can easily gain the weight to jump up to true welterweight. The fight could even be fought at around a 144 lbs. catch-weight if necessary.
"He's going to see the fire that only a Mexican fighter can bring into a ring", Rios will say. "I'm going to dedicate the beating I give Pacquiao to my close friend Antonio Margarito. This is about revenge."
They'll play up the angle of Rios being an all-offense, bright, young Mexican American fighter. A guy who is basically a younger version of Pacquiao given the way he fights. Can the aging master put away a mirror image of himself in the twilight of his career ?
The answer will be a resounding yes. Pacquiao will be 34 at that point, but will still pack too much speed, power and punch resilience for Rios, who true to his word, will come out and try to put Pacquiao to the sword. Unfortunately for him, it's simply not possible for him to stand toe to toe with Pacquiao and expect to win a slugfest. Pacquiao will take some damage, but will stop the younger man in the middle to late rounds.
2 consecutive $25 MM paydays for Pacquiao, and a windfall of in-house revenue for Arum and Top Rank. The business case here is not only compelling, but only an idiot would not try to make this scenario happen. This is what is in Arum's head, when he thinks of 2012 and Manny Pacquiao.
Finally, in 2013, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather will finally meet in a battle that will destroy every pay-per-view record that exists. By then, there will well and truly be no opponents left to fight.
Sergio Martinez will either have been beaten by Floyd Mayweather or will decide that the precipitous drop to welterweight or a nearby catch-weight would forever damage him as a fighter (see Roy Jones Jr.). Mike Jones, who is a Top Rank fighter, is a bit of an X factor here, but given that he currently has no fan base, no elite fights on his resume and is simply not a sell-able fighter, he may not be ready at that point to step into the limelight. He may also have taken a loss by 2013, which would further limit his marketability.
In the 2013 super fight for the ages, Floyd Mayweather will beat Manny Pacquiao by decision, negating Pacquiao's angles with movement, slipping his jab and countering repeatedly with straight right hands and short left hooks and tying Pacquiao up repeatedly, thereby breaking his rhythm.
Pacquiao will take the loss and will either retire from boxing or will do a final farewell fight in the Philippines before moving on to a career as a full time politician.
His legacy ? It will remain largely in tact. Arum and company will leave the entire saga with a final word: "Just as Sugar Ray Leonard may have waited for Marvin Hagler to age and slow down before fighting him, Mayweather delayed the fight for years, watching Pacquiao wear down and age due to his epic battles, before finally engaging Manny when he was a shadow of his former self. Had Mayweather faced Pacquiao in his prime, there could be only one result: a resounding victory for Manny."
That's my prediction, just looking at all the factors at play. Thoughts ?