Boxing

 
       === It's official (I think): Pacquiao-Mayweather won't happen ===
 
 By Lyle Fitzsimmons
 
 Cape  Coral, FL  - I concede. I'm  a betting man; but not a particularly smart
 one.
 
 So  even  when the  surest of sure  things leaps out  of sporting woodwork and
 screams,  "Hey Lyle, bet on me, you can't lose," I'm far more likely to ignore
 the  nudge and  drop a misguided $20  on the off-chance that the New York Jets
 will actually win a Super Bowl at least once before I die.
 
 As I said, I'm loyal to a fault ... but not very smart.
 
 Still,  when it  comes to boxing, I think  I might be about ready to change my
 record.
 
 Thanks to my old pal, Manny Pacquiao.
 
 I'm  sure the Filipino  belt-collector had no idea the other day -- as he made
 the studio rounds at the preeminent four-lettered basic cable sports empire in
 Connecticut  -- that he was all but ensuring a nice pre-Christmas largesse for
 his favorite boxing journalism nemesis.
 
 (OK,  c'mon, let's be realistic here. Manny wouldn't know me from Adam, but it
 sounds  a lot better  to call yourself someone's nemesis than it does to admit
 that  they're  completely unaware of your  existence. And hey, if that offends
 the message-board purists among us ... sue me.)
 
 Anyway,  the more  Manny spoke liberally about the possibility that he'd agree
 fight  Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the foreseeable future -- from allowing his foe
 to make more cash, to confirming that he's OK with the idea of extensive blood
 tests -- the more he essentially guaranteed it'll never actually happen.
 
 Not because he doesn't really mean what he says.
 
 He's a politician, after all. Do the math.
 
 And not because of the silly Skip Bayless claim that Mayweather fears him.
 
 That's just a case of Skip being, well ... Skip.
 
 Instead,  the reason  the century's  two most  prodigious divisional  kingpins
 won't  come together in a ring, in this lifetime or any other, will remain the
 same as it's been since the idea was first discussed.
 
 Bob Arum.
 
 You remember him, right?
 
 He's  the  promoter who, when Mayweather  was in his stable several years ago,
 referred to Floyd as the best fighter since Muhammad Ali -- then labeled him a
 coward  when the relationship ended. He's since saved his most breathless man-
 crushes  for  Pacquiao, going one  better by  labeling him "the greatest boxer
 I've  ever seen,  and I've seen them  all, including Ali, Hagler and Sugar Ray
 Leonard."
 
 Now,  whether  a comment  like that  ought to have  the old  man burned at the
 stake,  indicted for  treason or  simply committed  to the  nearest Baker  Act
 facility is up for debate. But what's probably less worth arguing about is the
 idea that putting his Southeast Asian cash cow in with Mayweather is something
 that gives the old man night tremors.
 
 Not only because deep down Bob probably doesn't think his guy stands a chance.
 But  when  it comes to the  wallet, it's just  as likely because he'd not want
 Mayweather  to make a legacy -- and a mountain of money -- by wiping the floor
 with his most cherished asset.
 
 I can't blame the guy, really. I mean, honestly, once you've cut your old lady
 loose  and moved  on to a newer model,  who'd want to show up at the next high
 school  reunion to  see the previous version scoring in the bleachers with the
 high school quarterback who's now a rich, successful CEO.
 
 But  the lengths  to  which he's  shown  willingness to  go  have been  pretty
 surprising.
 
 Earlier  this  year, when the  idea of a  Pacquiao-Mayweather fight was in the
 latest  of  its perpetual "If  Manny beats his guy  and Floyd beats his, maybe
 they'll  finally  fight in the  fall" modes, up  popped a couple of convenient
 judges  who claimed to see a well-timed Tim Bradley boxing clinic that somehow
 99.99 percent of the rest of the world managed to miss.
 
 The  dubious decision, though it cost the Pac Man his welterweight jewelry and
 perhaps  his perch  atop the  odd pound-for-pound  list, served  precisely the
 purpose laid out by a superfight-averse businessman -- immediately putting the
 now-former  champ on  the less lucrative, but safer "vengeance is mine" career
 track while leaving his brash would-be conqueror to pursue other quarry.
 
 And  when the discerning public saw the Bradley return bout for what it was --
 a  bad  joke contrived  in a  desert boardroom --  Arum changed direction with
 alacrity,  flicked through  his Rolodex of past foes and immediately went back
 to  the same bag of tricks he'd pulled from to give his man legitimacy at 126,
 130 and 147 pounds.
 
 So  now, just when Manny starts flapping his gums with the notion that a fight
 with  Mayweather  might actually be something  he wants after all ... in comes
 the super promoter to save the day.
 
 Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Juan Manuel Marquez.
 
 Oh  sure, he  barely brushes 5-foot-7. Indeed, he's about four-tenths the size
 of  the typical Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman. And yeah, he's a few days
 short of 11 months shy of his 40th birthday.
 
 Doesn't matter.
 
 Between  now  and the evening  of Dec. 8  in Las Vegas,  Arum and his Top Rank
 consiglieres  are going  to pull out every stop, woo every journalist and cram
 every available minute of HBO Sports broadcast time with the idea that Marquez
 and Pacquiao IV is really the fight everyone needs and wants to see.
 
 (Who  knows, Manny  might even beat him  this time. After all, there's a first
 time for everything.)
 
 From there, once the scary Mexican dragon has finally been slain, it'll be off
 to  Manila and  the  eternal  fight for  legislative  truth,  justice and  the
 Filipino  way, where  no scary  American dragon  with better  defense, sharper
 punching and more all-around skill will ever bother him again.
 
 And unless my wager's misplaced -- and unless Pacquiao says "enough, Bob, make
 the fight with Mayweather now" -- we can finally replace the Manny-Floyd thing
 with a matchup that stands a snowball's chance in hell of actually happening.
 
 Hmmm ... whatever will I do with those 20 bucks?
 
 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
 This week's title-fight schedule:
 
 No title fights scheduled.
 
 Last                    week's                   picks:                    4-0
 Overall picks record: 429-147 (74.4 percent)
 
 Lyle  Fitzsimmons  is a veteran  sports columnist who's written professionally
 since  1988 and covered  boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and
 posted  online  for  clients  in  North  America  and  Europe.  Reach  him  at
 fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter: @fitzbitz.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 09/27 23:18:47 ET

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