By Chris Robinson
There hasn't been a fighter in the sport who has generated as many headlines in recent weeks as has bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire. But that necessarily isn't a good thing, considering that the Fil-Am fighter's waves were that of the dire kind with the recent tug-of-war between promoters Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions over his services.
Donaire inked an exclusive deal with Golden Boy earlier this month, a move that was countered by Bob Arum, who insisted that his contract with the 28-year old was still valid. Arum even went as far as taking some shots at Nonito and his wife Rachel publicly, this just days before Top Rank came out on top in an initial court hearing that all but sent the 'Filipino Flash' back their umbrella.
It's definitely a mess of a situation and people in the sport have had plenty to say. Speaking with HBO analyst Larry Merchant earlier tonight for our weekly column, I was able to gather his perspective on everything that went down.
"It's part of the back and forthing between the two promotional outfits. I wish all of our fights were as fierce," Merchant quipped as our conversation kicked off.
I asked Larry how awkward it will be for Donaire to continue his duties under Arum given the rough dialogue that had been exchanged between the parties.
"Eventually contracts expire and I don't know if when that time comes that Donaire will forget it," Merchant pointed out. "But things can change. If he starts becoming an attraction then more money could be offered to sign a new contract with him. It's one of those areas I'm not particularly interested in. It is part of the game but the important thing is, who is Donaire going to fight next and how soon can it happen?"
Merchant also made note of a just how different the sport is these days for the fighters who so desperately claw to make their living.
"It highlights a reality that a lot of people don't want to face. Prizefighters are not just athletes; they are entrepreneurs. They are businessmen and this is part of the business," he continued.
Digging into things a bit further, Merchant seemed to compare the Donaire saga to that of another one of the sport's elite champions who has been through the ringer with both Top Rank and Golden Boy during his days as a champion.
"Marquez was with Top Rank and they let him go," Merchant noted of Juan Manuel Marquez, the reigning WBA and WBO lightweight champion of the world. "They didn't think they could make any money with him. So he went to Golden Boy and he made money. Now Arum may want him back to fight Pacquiao. So Marquez is now likely in a contractual dispute with Golden Boy. Hey, it's a business."
Merchant sounded off by pointing out that this isn't just about the sport of boxing; it's simply a part of life.
"Prizefighters have a short window of opportunity and they are looking for the best deal. Mosley prospered with Golden Boy and they did well for him but they couldn't make the Pacquiao fight so he was able to jump ship. This is how it's done in the big city. Not just boxing, it's all businesses that operate this way."