While a lot of the sports world was sure that the 3:00am press conference held by Bob Arum and Top Rank meant the deal was done between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather I don't think too many boxing fans thought that would be the case. And indeed, what we got was a talk about how Floyd and his people "missed the deadline" and a new target date of May 2011.
Now, Manny Pacquiao will be fighting on November 13. Bob Arum is looking into Abu Dhabi or Mexico, with possible opponents being Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito -- surprise, surprise, surprise. Instead of looking outside for a real challenge, or even just a fresh challenge for someone who's earned it (like Timothy Bradley, perhaps), Arum stays in-house and offers us potential opponents who have either been shredded once by Manny (Cotto) or who have become the most polarizing and temper spike-inducing figure in boxing (Margarito).
Which brings me to my ultimate feeling right now. It's time for boxing fans from all over the world to stop acting like one side is better than the other in this whole saga. It's time for us to unite, forget about why we do or don't like Mayweather, Pacquiao, Arum, Oscar, Schaefer, Ellerbe, and whoever else is involved in this. It's time for us to start blaming everyone involved for the best and biggest fight available in the entire combat sports world not happening. Nobody is pristine here, and for all the loyalty you've shown these people, you're going to be offered a rematch that doesn't need to happen or a fight with a guy who doesn't even have a license to fight in the United States. (And this isn't about Antonio Margarito, either, so I'd rather not have that discussion for the 63rd time where all the gumshoes crack the case, if you'd do me that favor.)
I'm not raging about this. I'm frustrated simply because this is, like it or not, what boxing is more often than what it isn't. For all the strides that have been made in the last four years or so after a really awful period where guys were flat-out avoiding taking hard fights as much as they possibly could, we have these two diva sides bickering and finding it impossible to make the one fight that really matters for either of them.
I've said it over and over, there is no "war" between boxing and MMA and I think it's stupid to directly compare them as there are different promotional models, not to mention that they're completely different sports. There also is not exactly a huge "crossover" between boxing fans and MMA fans. There are people who like both but they are usually going to spend their dollars in one place before they'd spend in the other.
This fight, however, represents something different. Mayweather/Pacquiao is so big that it could somewhat dictate the scheduling of MMA events. It's the one boxing match that is absolutely must-see and a promotion like the UFC would definitely want to avoid going head-to-head with it or probably even putting on a show the week before or after.
A perfect world would have seen the fight happen during the first round of negotiations and the card feature a great undercard that introduced the casual fans tuning in to great, exciting talent in hopes of maybe creating a few new stars. Instead, as Scott pointed out, we've just got a bunch of divas unwilling to appear weak.
And then there's the idea of Arum and Top Rank daring to suggest Pacquiao vs. Margarito with a straight face. Margarito doesn't have a license to fight in the U.S. after being caught tampering with his hand wraps. Glove tampering has killed fighters in the past and ruined careers and lives. For Margarito to not have been blackballed from the sport but instead possibly rewarded with an overseas bout that would likely be the biggest payday of his career disgusts me and should do the same to anyone who respects combat sports.
Boxing is not dead, nor is it dying. But the sport sure is taking a black eye from letting a huge fight slip away and replacing it with either a completely unnecessary rematch or a reward for a man who was willing to risk other fighter's lives to get a win.