by David P. Greisman
The conversation shifts, then shifts again. And again. And so on.
There was a time in 2009 when we were talking about Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley. Then we were talking about Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. And then it was Mosley-Mayweather again and Pacquaio-Joshua Clottey.
We sought Pacquiao-Mayweather once more, but we did not get what we want. And so we had Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito. And now we will have Pacquiao and Mosley.
The conversation soon turned to how this fight once again wasn’t Pacquiao against Mayweather. We talked about how it also wasn’t Pacquiao against any of the up-and-coming fighters at junior welterweight or welterweight. We spoke of how it was Pacquiao against a Shane Mosley who had just come off lesser performances against Mayweather and Sergio Mora.
And then the conversation shifted once more.
HBO was not distributing the Pacquiao-Mosley pay-per-view. Instead, in a coup, it would be Showtime. And CBS – with its broadcast television audience – would be airing commercials for the pay-per-view, as well as episodes of Showtime’s “Fight Camp 360” series.
The first episode of the documentary-slash-commercial aired this past Saturday on CBS (and will run again on Showtime on April 16). If the conversation had became more about the networks than about the fight itself, then “Fight Camp” is aiming to turn the talk to Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley and their fight on May 7.
Let’s talk about the first episode, then.
With a nod to syndicated columnist Norman Chad, I took notes:
12 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday: We start off in Baguio City, Philippines. Oh, I’ve heard this joke before. Stop me if you know how it ends. Manny Pacquiao is in his home country training for his next big fight, but there’s a typhoon approaching.
Or is this the one where Pacquiao is in his home country training but is distracted by strife in his camp and his duties serving his people both philanthropically and politically?
Wait, this seems like a new one. We’re spending the first minute with shots of mountains, buildings, vehicles, markets and kids hamming it up for the camera – and then with shots of people taking photos of Pacquiao and getting autographs? And some guy named Jim Reeves is singing a song from five decades ago called “Welcome to My World”?
It’s not TV. It’s not HBO either. And apparently the person doing the soundtrack is Quentin Tarantino.
This could be interesting. Or, at the very least, different.
12:01 p.m.: Pacquiao looks overwhelmed, like a man without a minute to himself. “Okay, here we go,” he says, the first words on this show from a principal member of this May’s fight with Shane Mosley.
He continues: “Interview with Manny Pacquiao for the first episode of what?”
“Fight Camp,” says a man off camera.
“360,” Pacquiao finishes, then says it again to someone on his side.
We won’t hold it against him for not immediately remembering what the show is. Andre Dirrell couldn’t remember the name of his doctor either when those imposing Showtime cameras were turned on.
At least he didn’t call the show “24/7.” And even if he did, that could’ve been edited out – unlike when Glen Johnson lost to Chad Dawson on Showtime, then told Jim Gray that he got robbed: “Everybody here in the audience saw it. Everybody that’s watching HBO – I mean Showtime, I’m sorry, Showtime – saw it.”
12:02 p.m.: This first episode is titled “The Hype,” and we’ve started off by moving from the hordes of fans surrounding Pacquiao to hordes of media members and cameras. An interviewer asks Pacquiao if he’s ever thought of singing the people he’s just knocked out a lullaby. We cut to clips of Pacquiao punching Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton, then cut back to Pacquiao singing.
Please, no. The knockouts were probably less painful. I kid – it’s not that bad, but a ticket to a Manny Pacquiao concert would be as good a place to spend money as a ticket to the opening night of Charlie Sheen’s traveling variety show.
Next, Gus Johnson’s voice – yes, Gus Johnson’s voice – comes over a montage of triumphant post-fight Pacquiao celebrations. “Is there any question that he’s the best fighter in the world?” Johnson asks.
We’ve set the table with who Pacquiao is. And now:
“A lot of people just count you out. Does it bother you at all?” an interviewer asks Shane Mosley.
“10 to 1 underdog,” Mosley responds. “That’s disrespectful. After it’s all over, I’m going to be looking at all of them and saying ‘Okay, I got your 10 to 1.’ ”
We see him hammering Antonio Margarito. The highlights are two years old, but our premise is set within two minutes of this show’s start. Best fighter in the world vs. underdog who’s willing to argue against that.
There are several ways to hype a fight. There’s the circus-like atmosphere of press-conference brawls and bizarre behavior. There’s the talk radio atmosphere of insults and manufactured heroes and villains. And then there’s the big-fight atmosphere of two fighters and the people around them hyping why someone can or cannot win.
12:04 p.m.: But we also have about half an hour to fill. And so we just got a minute of Pacquiao’s adviser, Michael Koncz, trying to get Pacquiao to wake up.
Pacquiao shows up late to a photo shoot. He doesn’t want to wear makeup, nor does he want too much water sprayed on him to simulate sweat. He gets sick when that happens. Floyd Mayweather Jr. takes notes like Lex Luthor discovering Kryptonite.
12:06 p.m: We see a photo of a young Bob Arum standing next to Muhammad Ali. It’s about as mentally jarring as seeing a photo of a young Hugh Hefner. Who knew such people ever existed?
12:07 p.m: More footage of Mosley against Margarito and, going back even further in time, De La Hoya. It’s not a completely honest take at where Mosley’s been in his career recently, but then again, do you recall a single highlight from Mosley vs. Sergio Mora?
12:08 p.m.: This commercial for Pacquiao-Mosley has commercials for more Pacquiao-Mosley “Fight Camp 360” episodes. There must be a breach in the space-time continuum.
12:09 p.m.: More of Koncz and publicist Fred Sternburg. They’re fighting on the undercard, right?
Now we’re at a Q-and-A in Las Vegas, which doesn’t sound exciting in premise but is made more palatable by the chanting fans at this casino arena.
“Do you like Justin Bieber?” a young girl asks Pacquiao, looking at his haircut.
Oh baby, baby, baby – no.
“Bruce Lee is my idol,” answers Pacquiao. The poor girl probably hasn’t heard of him. Or even Brandon Lee. We’re getting old, Manny. We’re getting old.
Pacquiao tells one fan that he’s not looking for a knockout. Mosley interrupts and tells Pacquiao that it’s okay to admit it – both of them want the kayo.
12:11 p.m.: Pacquiao is singing again. His wife, Jinkee, says he’s “a pretty good singer." Love isn’t always blind. Sometimes it’s deaf. My girlfriend finds my singing endearing, too. So do the neighborhood dogs.
We move to more personality profiling of Pacquiao and Mosley. Pacquiao carries the expectations and adoration of his people. Mosley is shooting pool and hanging out with his close circle of friends and family.
This isn’t controversial. It’s not exciting. It could be effective. Get casual viewers to care about the personalities first, and then the prizefighting. And once they see footage of the fighting – especially of Pacquiao – they’ll be ready for the sales pitch.
The question is whether this is compelling enough to keep the casual viewers tuned in to the whole episode. We’ve seen the UFC’s past programming on Spike TV – programs featuring highlights of fighters’ best moments and biggest wins.
There’s no storyline to this episode yet beyond a linear movement through time, from the press tour en route to the training camps. There doesn’t need to be manufactured drama or tension, but there does need to be a hook. And that’s where a narrator or well-placed quotes from interviews could fit in. The hook is the fight. The fight is the conclusion of the culmination.
12:16 p.m.: Maybe that’s what these “commercials amid the commercial” can do. “On May 7, Manny Pacquiao, the best fighter pound-for-pound, takes on the legendary ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley. The biggest names battle in boxing’s most anticipated event. Catch the fight of the year: Pacquiao vs. Mosley, Saturday, May 7, live on pay-per-view.”
There you go.
That makes up for conversations about Pacquiao’s clothes being ironed and footage of the fighter and others standing on a street corner on their way to the White House.
We hear one vehicle rear-ending another. Pacquiao’s camp members claim that the crash is because someone was taking a picture of Pacquiao. Trust me: it’s more that the drivers in D.C. are just that bad.
12:18 p.m.: Manny Pacquiao gets to meet President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid. Shane Mosley gets to hang out at the ESPN studios.
“Michelle [Obama] is on our side,” says Hassan Abdul Rahim of Mosley’s camp.
“And Oprah,” says trainer Naazim Richardson.
Please, Showtime, if you take one thing from HBO, let it be this: More Naazim!
Mosley yawns. That’s cutting-room-floor material!
12:21 p.m.: Mosley is shown driving more than 100 mph on his way to his training camp in Big Bear, Calif. This is all filler material. In writing, this is like boring the reader with the procedural and distracting from the material. We’re getting the making of the sausage but none of the meat.
Pacquiao, meanwhile, returns to Baguio City. We see him training with Freddie Roach – finally, some action. Over in California, Shane is hitting the heavy bag and working out.
“I’m really eager to just put people in their place,” Mosley says. “I feel sorry for the person on the other side of the ring.
“I consider him a good fighter and a tough opponent,” Pacquiao says. “That’s why I train hard for this fight.”
The trainers talk. The fighters punch. The trainers point out what problems their fighters could run into, what weaknesses they could exploit in their opponents. The fighters sound confident.
12:25 p.m: The episode ends with a look at next week: problems in the camps. The kind of drama that we’re familiar with from HBO’s “24/7” series.
Drama is good. So is action. The first episode of “Fight Camp 360: Pacquiao vs. Mosley” started well and ended well, but there was far, far too much filler in-between.
While it’s good to introduce people to the personalities involved, the reason why we’re following these personalities is because they fight, because they fight well, and because they’ll be fighting each other.
We must also remind ourselves, however, that this show is trying to reach viewers beyond those of us who are already quite familiar with everyone involved.
It’s a start, though, and a decent one so long as this episode got people talking. The conversation does shift, and so, too, will the narrative as the fight approaches.
The 10 Count
1. It was tremendously cool to see the first episode of “Fight Camp 360: Pacquiao vs. Mosley” air on CBS on Saturday – but let’s not go overboard on what this network television broadcast will mean for boxing or for the success of the pay-per-view.
It was a good move by CBS, which has the same parent company as Showtime, the network producing the Pacquiao-Mosley PPV.
CBS both could’ve and should’ve done more.
The “Fight Camp” episode aired at noon Eastern Time, four hours before the NCAA basketball tournament pregame show for the “Final Four” weekend was set to begin. I don’t know how many people watch network television on Saturday at noon (or even earlier in the day as you go west).
My ABC station had college lacrosse on. My NBC was airing something called “Willa’s Wild Life.”
I believe it would’ve been far more beneficial for CBS to take the route that Fox did on Super Bowl Sunday, when it aired Bill O’Reilly’s interview with President Obama as a break in its pregame coverage just about two hours before kickoff.
Nevertheless, something on CBS is still better than nothing. And the commercials for Pacquiao-Mosley during the Final Four games themselves were also good – though, again, the commercials I saw were actually for future episodes of “Fight Camp” on Showtime, not for the pay-per-view itself.
2. If you’re wondering why you heard the voice of Showtime’s Gus Johnson over HBO’s footage of Manny Pacquiao (against Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton) and Shane Mosley (against Antonio Margarito), here’s the answer.
First, here’s why you didn’t hear Jim Lampley:
“On all our broadcasts using any other network’s footage, we are not allowed to use anyone else's talent since we are only granted usage of the fight and not their talent,” said Earl Fash of Showtime, the show’s executive producer, via email. “It also goes for ring announcers. It’s a common practice for all networks.”
And here’s why you heard Johnson:
“It is a creative decision that we make to fill in audio voids with exciting calls rather than 20 seconds of footage and music,” Fash said. “It makes the viewer feel like they are experiencing the fight rather than feeling that there's something missing.”
3. It actually didn’t take long at all for the legal battle over Nonito Donaire to reach its conclusion – thanks in large part to the terms Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank Inc. agreed to after their first “Cold War.”
The promoters had agreed to bring in an arbitrator for their disputes. That arbitrator is Daniel Weinstein, the same retired judge who’d mediated their settlement.
Dan Rafael of ESPN.com summed things up: “As part of the [initial] settlement Weinsten oversaw, the companies agreed not to poach each other’s fighters. So when Golden Boy signed Donaire, Top Rank took its grievance to Weinstein.”
The arbitrator ruled that Golden Boy cannot presently promote Donaire. And so the bantamweight sensation is still under Top Rank, though one imagines the relationship could be strained.
The Donaire camp, namely Nonito’s wife, Rachel, had ripped Top Rank for the way it handled his career. And then Bob Arum of Top Rank criticized both Donaire’s drawing power and Donaire’s wife.
Money does heal all wounds, though.
The networks will pay to have Donaire. Top Rank will gladly take that money and produce Donaire. And Donaire will gladly take Top Rank’s money and step in the ring.
4. Speaking of money, let’s move on to Floyd Mayweather Jr., who once again has been accused by the IRS of owing millions of dollars in taxes.
This time the bill is $3,359,279 in taxes owed from 2009, according to the Detroit News.
And, as the newspaper noted, this isn’t the first time Mayweather’s been in trouble with the IRS. In 2008, the agency said Mayweather owed the federal government $6,165,735 in taxes.
Mayweather’s apparently gone from the nickname of one gangster to the behavior of another, from being named after Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd” to evading taxes a la Al Capone.
5. So, this is how Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins want to promote their rematch, eh?
Pascal, having already signed the contract, is demanding that Hopkins be tested for performance enhancing drugs, implying that Hopkins is using them.
And Hopkins is launching into the hyperbole of: “Don’t be surprised if he dies in the ring. Don’t be surprised if I kill him.”
Surely that’ll help casual fans find someone to root for. It’s a much better strategy than, oh, “The young champion knocked down the future Hall of Famer early, only to see the old veteran battle back and take him to the limit.” There’d never be any marketability in a rematch based on that premise.
6. Boxers Behaving Badly update: A court in Germany has overturned light heavyweight titleholder Juergen Braehmer’s conviction on charges of assaulting a woman in September 2008 in the city of Schwerin, according to The Bild (with this scribe receiving translation help from a friend).
He’d been sentenced in January 2010 to 16 months in jail. His appeal turned out to be a successful one. The court ruled that there was no evidence of the assault and doubted that he’d actually struck the woman.
The 32-year-old, who is 36-2 with 29 knockouts, is slated to defend his belt in May against Nathan Cleverly.
This wasn’t Braehmer’s first scrape with the law. Cases in 1998 and 2002 left him on probation into last decade. He was also acquitted in 2007 on charges of assaulting a man.
7. Boxers Behaving Badly, part one: Former heavyweight titleholder Herbie Hide has been arrested and charged with rape, according to BBC News.
Hide, 39, is accused of raping a woman between Nov. 1 and Nov. 7 of last year. His next court hearing is scheduled for April 15.
Hide is 49-4 with 43 knockouts, holding a world title twice during the ‘90s and continuing to box at or around cruiserweight over the past several years.
8. Boxers Behaving Badly, parts two, three and four:
- Former heavyweight title challenger Carl Davis Drumond, 36, has been put behind bars for two months of “preventive detention” after being accused of beating and threatening his wife, according to Inside Costa Rica.
Drumond’s legal history includes a lengthy stint behind bars for rape, and then he had a second rape case that ended with charges being dropped. He is 26-3 with 20 knockouts.
- Former super-middleweight title challenger Lou Gent has been charged with assaulting his wife, according to British newspaper the Lynn News. The 45-year-old was 22-10-2 with 11 knockouts.
- Boxing brothers Charles and Gregory Hatley were arrested last week in Arkansas and charged with, among other things, having 22.8 pounds of marijuana hidden within a standard piece of boxing equipment – a heavy bag, according to television channel KATV.
“Both men are charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia,” the article reported. “Charles Hatley was also charged with driving with a suspended license and no insurance.”
Charles Hatley, 25, is a welterweight/junior middleweight with a record of 14-0-1 (11 knockouts). Greg Hatley, a 26-year-old light heavyweight, is 3-1 with three knockouts.
9. Did you catch the segment on “Fight Camp 360” in which Shane Mosley was shown going way, way, way over the speed limit?
This seems like the beginning of what could be Shane Mosley’s Series of Unfortunate Events:
First bad decision: Driving at more than 100 mph on a California highway.
Second bad decision: Allowing yourself to be filmed driving at more than 100 mph on a California highway.
Third bad decision: Allowing footage of yourself driving at more than 100 mph on a California highway to be aired on national frickin’ television.
I give you these first two sentences from a December article in The Oklahoman:
“Dee Albert ‘Cody’ Replogle posted YouTube videos of himself speeding down Oklahoma City-area freeways in his high-powered Chevrolet Corvette. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol used the videos to find him and arrest him for it…”
10. Then again, California is the same state that once put Lindsay Lohan in jail for a mere 84 minutes…
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com.
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