Top Rank CEO Bob Arum may have played the timing game just right. He is ready to put Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in the ring with Sergio Martinez on September 15 and may now be prepared to possibly proceed with a long awaited mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. next year.
Ronnie Nathanielsz recently reported on BoxingScene.com that Arum, after meeting with Pacquiao on Friday, is confident the fight the world has been wanting to see for over two years will happen and is "optimistic for April next year".
The reported rationale for this timing is to avoid conflicts with Pacquaio's campaign schedule for the May 2012 election, where he will run for governor of Sarangani province, and the NCAA 'March Madness' college basketball tournament.
Arum also expressed optimism in reaching an agreement on revenue splits in light of the entry of Mayweather's close friend and business associate Curtis Jackson, also known as rapper 50 Cent, into the promotional business under the company name TMT (The Money Team) Promotions. With Top Rank nemesis Golden Boy Promotions essentially removed from the equation, a deal is presumably more likely to get done.
“He appears to me to be a real businessman with no agenda like some of the other guys so I think we can get a deal done,” Arum told BoxingScene.com.
While these factors may be helpful in making the mega-fight finally happen, Arum himself might have had a plan which he may now be ready to deploy. In a March 2010 article by Alexander Fugate of nowboxing.com, the history and bad blood between Arum and Mayweather is thoroughly detailed. Fugate points out that although Arum has been relentless in his criticism of the quality of Mayweather's past opponents, he has been equally unwilling to put big names that are under Top Rank's control in the ring with boxing's other pound-for-pound king.
The three top fighters under Top Rank's control that were being discussed as potential opponents for Mayweather at that time were Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito. Cotto only fought Mayweather in May 2012 after his contract with Top Rank expired, with his own promotional company co-promoting the bout with Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions. Margarito never faced Mayweather, instead getting annihilated against fellow Top Rank fighter Pacquiao which kept it all in the family for Arum.
Similarly, Arum did not put his top middleweight, WBC titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., into the ring with one of the leading pound-for-pound fighters in Sergio Martinez until there was adequate time to build confidence in the young Mexican champion. With some help from the WBC, who did not press such a fight even though WBC Diamond champion Martinez had been the mandatory challenger for the past year while Chavez defended the title three times against virtual 'tune-up' opponents, Arum was able to bide his time while Chavez built a brand.
Top Rank now awaits a possible major payoff if the young champion can defeat Martinez. Even in defeat, the 26-year old Chavez would still likely remain a marketing draw at this point with a respectable showing against the talented Argentine.
The Chavez situation allows Arum more flexibility to work out an agreement with Mayweather. It is no secret that Pacquiao's days in boxing are numbered given his slowly declining skills at the age of 33 and political interests. With the succession plan well established, the time has come to roll the dice with the biggest jewel in the Top Rank stable.
In addition to Chavez, Top Rank can rely upon WBO and IBF super bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire to carry the torch. Behind him is undefeated light welterweight slugger Brandon Rios and WBA super bantamweight champion, Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux. Longer-term, very promising undefeated contenders exist in featherweight Mikey Garcia and super featherweight Diego Magdaleno.
In other words, it would not be as crushing to Top Rank now as it would have been two or three years ago if Pacquiao lost to Mayweather. Pacquiao's controversial loss to Timothy Bradley in June may also lead to greater willingness by both camps to compromise since boxing generally finds a way to turn bad publicity into gold.
The timing of this fight may not be the best for boxing fans but it could be just right for Top Rank.
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