By Lyle Fitzsimmons
Bob Arum is better at promoting fights than I am at anything I’ve ever tried.
He’s got a track record that stretches farther than my 45 years, and his contractual relationships with guys like Manny Pacquiao and Tim Bradley, among others, seem to indicate that he’ll be relevant on the sport’s top shelf for just as long as he wants to be.
But for crying out loud, he’s got to get over this Mayweather thing.
I mean, I get it. They used to work together, now they don’t. He used to say Floyd was one of the best fighters he’d ever seen, but now he’s a coward focused only on money and remaining unbeaten.
It’s a lot like commentary that could be applied to any relationship when it veers from hot to cold.
What starts out as “She’s wonderful and attractive and I hang on her every word” quickly deteriorates to “I was never that into her in the first place, I just wanted to get in good with her sister.”
Still, after a while, those principals do move on to other things.
That doesn’t seem to be the case with Bob, though.
Wherever and whenever he gets a chance, there’s either a cleverly veiled or completely outspoken shot across the Mayweather bow – and it continued well into the night on Saturday at the MGM Grand, after Pacquiao and Bradley went another 12 entertaining rounds.
This time, his rant centered on the venue’s next big welterweight match, in which Mayweather will face WBA champion Marcos Maidana to unify their 147-pound slices on May 3.
“The Mayweather fight is bad for the public, who are being talked to about spending good money on nonsense, and it’s bad for MGM, which continues to peddle non-competitive matches,” he said. “If you think it’s not competitive, write it. Don’t not write it because he’ll deny you access.”
While I thank Mr. Arum for his impromptu lecture on journalism ethics, it’s getting a little old.
Sure, Mayweather’s a big favorite to beat Maidana – a 12-1 pick according to the boys at VegasInsider.com. But given the landscape in the welterweight division in the midst of a freeze-out between the top promotional entities, exactly who else was he supposed to fight?
I’ll concede Maidana is no Pacquiao, and I’d certainly prefer a Floyd-Manny match if given the option. But in the absence of that, “Chino” is a two-division championship claimant, he has won 18 of 19 fights above 140 pounds and he did whip an unbeaten three-division champ in his most recent fight.
Mayweather did legitimately go to the next weight class to beat a younger, stronger and just as unbeaten foe in his last fight, and, short of hopping up to 160 to meet middleweights – something I don’t see PacMan doing either, by the way – his reality is that he’s left to what’s in front of him.
And just because no one who sets odds thinks he can lose at 147, whose fault is that?
Funny, but I don’t recall Arum bellowing “write it if you think it’s not competitive” from the rooftops when Pacquiao was meeting Mayweather leftover Shane Mosley, when he didn’t hold a belt and hadn’t won a fight in 28 months. Back then, in fact, he was far more promoter than ethicist, claiming a 39-year-old “Sugar” would provide Manny with “a good, interesting, really exciting fight.”
And in the intervening few years, it’s not as if Pacquiao’s been busily tilling new ground.
Since he beat Mosley in what turned out to be a colossal dud, Manny is 3-2 in five fights – including two with Bradley, two with Juan Manuel Marquez and one with Brandon Rios, which was sold as World War III, but in reality was a masterfully crafted spar session designed mainly to regain Pac’s lost luster.
Meanwhile, Mayweather is 4-0 in the same stretch, having beaten a reigning welterweight belt-holder in Victor Ortiz, two reigning super welterweight belt-holders in Alvarez and Miguel Cotto (nine pounds heavier than where Pacquiao fought him, by the way) and a former two-division champ in Robert Guerrero who hadn’t lost a fight in more than seven years, including two at 147.
When it comes to competitive/relevant matches, sorry Bob, but it’s not even close.
And if what we’re left with for Pacquiao in the future is either Marquez V or Mike Alvarado I, the chasm doesn’t get any narrower.
No matter how hard you stomp your feet from behind the podium.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
I like looking at a list of all the fighters in a given weight class top to bottom – regardless of who holds what belts. So from here forward, along with the slot given contenders by the sanctioning bodies, the positioning provided by the British-based Independent World Boxing Rankings will also be included.
IBF/WBA light heavyweight titles – Washington, D.C.
Bernard Hopkins (IBF champion/No. 2 IWBR) vs. Beibut Shumenov (WBA champion/No. 10 IWBR) Hopkins (54-6-2, 32 KO): Second title defense; Third fight in Washington, D.C. (1-1)
Shumenov (14-1, 9 KO): Sixth title defense; Tenth fight in United States (9-0)
Fitzbitz says: Shumenov’s two main attributes for this fight are his title belt and his willingness to appear on Showtime. Unless Bernard instantly turns 49, it’s a warm-up for Stevenson. Hopkins by decision
IBF welterweight title – Washington, D.C.
Shawn Porter (champion/No. 8 IWBR) vs. Paul Malignaggi (No. 4 contender/No. 11 IWBR)
Porter (23-0-1, 14 KO): First title defense; Second fight scheduled for 12 rounds
Malignaggi (33-5, 7 KO): Tenth title fight (5-4); Fifteenth fight above 140 pounds (13-1)
Fitzbitz says: Every time people think Paulie is finished, he produces a career-lengthening effort. But Porter may be too young and hungry to let him get away with the same old tricks. Porter by decision
WBO middleweight title – Washington, D.C.
Peter Quillin (champion/No. 5 IWBR) vs. Lukas Konecny (No. 2 contender/No. 24 IWBR)
Quillin (30-0, 22 KO): Third title defense; Scored 11 knockdowns in first three title fights
Konecny (50-4, 23 KO): Third title fight (0-2); Lost WBO title fights at 154 in 2008 and 2012
Fitzbitz says: Quillin keeps trying to break into the Martinez-Golovkin conversation at 160, but hasn’t done it yet. Another action-packed win may not help, but it’ll be fun to watch anyway. Quillin in 9
Last week's picks: 2-1
2014 picks record: 22-5 (81.4 percent)
Overall picks record: 569-199 (74.0 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder - no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.