When I first read the news that Manny Pacquiao has signed a new two-year deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank promotional company I was pretty shocked, but not at all surprised. Boxing’s only eight division world champion remains blindly loyal to Bob Arum despite the fact that he is a global icon whose worldwide appeal means he could easily promote his own fights.
Yet instead of cutting out the middle man, it seems Pacquiao is cutting his nose off to spite his face by continuing to align himself with the Top Rank and HBO alliance.
At least on the surface, that is what it looks like Pacquiao is doing. However, there are rumblings below the earth that suggest the current landscape of boxing could be ripped up and radically re-arranged, making Pacquiao’s decision to stay tied to Top Rank less prohibitive than it seems.
By delving into deeper into the situation, taking account of the changing dynamics of this so called ‘Cold War’, his decision to re-sign with Bob Arum may suggest that the conflict between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions may soon be resolved, to an extent.
Just yesterday Bob Arum dropped a major hint that he is set to rekindle his working relationship with his former protégé Oscar De La Hoya’s company Golden Boy Promotions. In comments attributed to the Top Rank boss, he stated, “We will see which of these welterweights have been fighting for Golden Boy or on the contract to Golden Boy that Oscar can produce,”
He also said, “Once we learn that, we can review those fighters. It could be Amir Khan. Canelo [Alvarez] is fighting too late. He’s fighting in July. So for November, Canelo wouldn’t be right. But maybe sometime next year.”
These comments, which come hot on the heels of Oscar De La Hoya and Bob Arum’s recent meeting to set aside their differences, gives the biggest indication yet that the Cold War is set to thaw. Throw in the persistent rumours of internal unrest within Golden Boy Promotions, caused by the fissures in the relationship between Oscar De La Hoya and GBP CEO Richard Schaefer, and it all amounts to sire signs that the deep wounds caused by the most divisive conflict in boxing are set to heal.
Interestingly Bob Arum mentioned Amir Khan as a future opponent for Pacquiao. The Bolton boxer is now managed by the elusive Al Haymon, who also handles the business affairs of many top young boxers such as Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter. Regardless of whether Al Haymon is reluctant to work with Bob Arum, he is a businessman first and foremost: the financial sense of matching his young prospects up with Manny Pacquiao will more than likely subordinate his trepidation to work with the Top Rank boss.
The other name mentioned by Arum, Mexican sensation Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, makes perfect sense on many levels. Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions have worked tirelessly to turn the 24 year old into a P-P-V star, and a fight against the Filipino superstar could prove to be the tipping point in his popularity regardless of the result of the fight. The Pay Per View numbers would be enormous, and providing Canelo performs well in his next few fights, an encounter with Pacquiao in 2015 has the potential to break records at the box office.
However fight fans must temper their enthusiasm: it is early days yet and definitely not time to rejoice in delight. It could easily turn out to be another false dawn. But many see the current developments as a strong signal that the dynamics of the Cold War are set to change in the coming months.
So from the surface it may seem Pacquiao’s decision to re-sign for Top Rank is a massive disaster yet it may it just prove to be a masterstroke from the Filipino superstar.
Fight fans: Do you think the Cold War is set to thaw? Is Pacquiao making a perilous decision by staying at Top Rank or will does he know something we don’t?
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