By Michael Marley
There’s one wild card in finalizing a deal for a Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao trilogy, and it could come back to haunt all of the principals. And, when I say wild card, my reference is not to Freddie Roach's Sweat Palace located in the sleaziest section of Hollyweird.
By design, Bob Arum wants the Mexican counterpuncher to participate in Chapter 3 against the Pinoy Idol on Nov. 12 in Las Vegas. What with Sugar Shane Mosley’s showing against a less than spectacular Pacquiao last Saturday night and Juan Manuel’s intelligent refusal to take Top Rank’s first offer, Marquez’s price went up, way up.
But what’s troubling is the insistence by Juan Manuel, who turns age 38 in August, to stage a July 2 tuneup against former Pacquiao foe David Diaz, the happy go lucky Chicago native.
“Tuneup” in boxing can be a poisonous word. “Tuneup” can turn into “tuneout.” To my lasting sadness, Terry Norris, had a $4.5 million bout contract signed to fight boxing’s Cash Cow of the era, Oscar De La Hoya.
As Norris’ co-manager I was due to get about 17 percent of that lovely loot. But, when myself and co-manager Scott Woodworth failed to talk Terry and his strong-willed father Orlin Norris out of the so-called “tuneup” with lightly-regarded Keith Mullings, I got zero as there was no Norris-De La Hoya bout after Mullings stopped Norris in Atlantic City.
We begged Norris to eschew the meager $250,000 purse for Mullings. But we couldn’t overrule Terrible Terry and Poppa Norris. We even offered a private fight in a gym sans headgear and with a real referee, the old Cus D’Amato training trick, but the Norrises said no way, Don Jose.
Let me switch gears as that story makes me weep uncontrollably. If not for that, my four children would be matriculating at Princeton rather Podunk Community College but, hey, that's my own sad song.
I can understand Juan Maneul wanting to rid himself of ring rust. I asked Arum about it Saturday night.
"Juan Manuel can do that. He can have a tuneup fight as long as it is before July 30,” Arum said.
Not that Marquez needed Arum’s permission but he’s apparently got it anyway.
Now, to protect Marquez-Pacquaio III, Arum must convince Juan Manuel to scratch a tuneup against David Diaz. It’s too risky. What if Marquez gets cut, twists an ankle or comes up with a training injury if not one while pummeling Dave From Chitown?
Arum knows how to convince Marquez to hit the delete button on the July 2 bout. Now that I’ve sounded the alarm, I don’t want anyone coming crying to me on July 3. Remember, my immutable Boxing Law, that “tuneup” can easily become “tuneout.”
David Diaz may not pull a shock upset like Mullings did but he could ruin the party for Nov. 12. Anyway you figure the risk-reward ratio, it makes no sense.
"Tuneup" is a bad word in boxing. When "tuneup" becomes "tuneout," that is blasphemy.