Bob Arum has found himself directly in the boxing spotlight for the past two weeks, first as part of the infamous Pacquiao/Bradley decision and the conspiracy theories that followed, and most recently announcing the long-awaited Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez fight to go head to head with Saul Alvarez vs. Victor Ortiz on September 15. Sure, that's all nice and grand, but to me, there's more than meets the eye when it comes to the long term plans of boxing's most vicious businessman. Cue some paranoia-conspiracy like music; this is going to get a little weird. Extreme speculation ahead!
In order to spin the Chavez/Martinez fight, Top Rank had to go out and say that this fight was one so big that the Vegas strip couldn't handle the magnitude of this incredible event and it would have to be moved to a larger arena. Granted, this isn't the first time we've heard Top Rank make this claim being that one of the reasons Mayweather and Pacquiao didn't already fight this year is because of a mythical outdoor stadium that needed time to be built outside of the Wynn Hotel, while at the same time Pacquiao had to heal from the worst 50-stitch cut ever suffered in the sport of boxing. The company may be pretending to feign interest in making that fight as they were for Mayweather/Pacquiao.
If that doesn't set off your bullshit alarm, then the location of that "larger arena" being revealed as the Thomas and Mack Center should get the bells ringing. Nothing against the T&M Center, but there's a reason a major fight hasn't taken place there since 2006 (which was the third Pacquiao/Morales fight) and that's because the arena is off the strip and hasn't been updated in recent years, making it an unattractive choice for boxing events, or MMA fights for that matter. Chavez/Martinez will bomb miserably at the gate if it really does go head to head with Alvarez/Ortiz at MGM being that casual fans would rather watch that fight and hang out on the Strip than have to drive in what will already be hellacious traffic to go to the other event.
Though Top Rank may be right in saying they had interest in the date first, it was Golden Boy who came out and not only secured the date, but also the location, while Top Rank was hoping to make those plans AFTER Chavez/Lee. It's all an attempt to throw you off because Chavez/Martinez isn't going to happen, or if it does, it's not going to happen anytime soon. As a matter of fact, Chavez/Martinez is all contingent on what happens on July 7th, being that Chavez's preferred opponent by the company is stepping into the ring, and barring any disaster, will face Chavez in October.
Before I get to the big reveal, here's something that ties this in a nice pretty bow for everyone. In April of this year, the WBC stripped Andre Ward of his title because he injured his hand, even though he was only their titlist for less than six months, a move they also executed on Timothy Bradley last year as well. Either the WBC has something against African-Americans or they're just furthering the agenda of Jose Sulaiman's dream to give a belt to every Mexican fighter out there. That's for all of you to decide I guess.
Anyway, Ward's situation, much like Bradley's, is all a maneuver to hopefully get a belt around a Mexican fighter's waist. Bradley was stripped to make Erik Morales a champion and Ward was stripped so that Chavez can hold their belt at 168, but whoever could Chavez fight if not Ward? The answer is none-other than troubled former Middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, who is ranked #10 now, but certainly will climb higher should he beat the next ready-to-order fighter in a few weeks.
Chavez/Pavlik would do much better numbers than a Martinez fight, and it keeps the money under one roof as opposed to splitting the pot with Lou DiBella yet again. While Chavez probably really does want to fight Martinez, Pavlik is more beatable at this stage of his career than Martinez. In addition to that, he's also a proven ticket seller whereas Martinez had trouble selling $20 tickets for his fight with Darren Barker, and his rematch with Paul Williams also looked sparsely attended. Top Rank gets more money, Chavez gets more money and a belt in a second weight class, and they finally put the nail on their failed experiment in Pavlik. It's a domino effect all the way to the bank.
On the way to the bank though, we'll be seeing the usual press releases before Chavez/Martinez deflates, mostly centered around Martinez's demands for a higher pay-day and Chavez's struggle with weight before the fight is "rescheduled indefinitely" and Chavez/Pavlik is announced a week or so after that, perhaps as a co-feature to Pacquiao/Marquez IV. It's not a science, but it just might happen.
Now onto what the majority of you scrolled through to look at, and that's the portion of Pacquiao/Marquez IV. Projected figures of Pacquiao/Bradley was anywhere between 950K-1 million pay-per-view buys, but it's just as likely as we'll never get the numbers for that fight in the same fashion we didn't get the Shane Mosley results. Of course, there's no surprise that the pay-per-view didn't do very well. Both sides may have already agreed to the fight, now made easier by Pacquiao having to take a smaller cut due to the Bradley incident, and Texas is the likely spot for the fourth encounter.
Moments after the third fight last November, Arum made it a point that he wanted to do a rematch as soon as possible, but Pacquiao flat-out said no to another go with Marquez, much to the dismay of Arum. When presumably half-assed attempts to get Miguel Cotto secured for a rematch fell through, Pacquiao was left with no choice but to face Bradley.
Pacquiao's situation remains the same as it was before the Bradley fight, nearing retirement and trying to make as much money as he possibly can before furthering his political career back in the Philippines. It may be hard to believe and even harder to accept if it comes to be, but what if another fight between the two is as hotly contested as the previous fights, but this time, Marquez gets the benefit of the doubt, especially considering that he's the one that might be staying a bit longer than Pacquiao. There may not be a large demand for Pacquiao/Bradley II, but there will be plenty of interest in Bradley/Marquez and the chance for Top Rank to have the only fighter in the game that has both Pacquiao and Marquez in the win column. The only way to make it that interesting is if Pacquiao comes up short yet again.
If any of these things come to pass, I'll be just as surprised as everybody else, but I'll also be the first one to say "I told you so."
[EDITOR'S NOTE: If you follow the official FightHype Twitter page, @fighthype, you already had your first hint about the theory of Chavez moving up to 168 to face Pavlik instead of Martinez, as well as Pacquiao fighting Marquez for a 4th time at Cowboys Stadium.]
Danny Howard can be reached for comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, or follow him on Twitter (@DBHOWARD126). Also don't miss an episode of FightHype Radio, the baddest two hours of boxing on the planet, starting at 8pm EST.