Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pacquiao v. Rios was a 'Deja Vu All Over Again'

The major reason I didn't buy last night's Rios v. Pacquiao fight was the sense it might turn out the way it did, with Rios being the showcase punching bag for a guy with superior boxing talent.

So it was what it was, and I still stand behind my blog yesterday in worrying about permanent damage to both fighters, but especially to Brandon Rios who uses his head as something like a third fist.

What amazes me most about the fight, though, is that Bob Arum managed to sell it and managed to sell it with a degree of genius.  What was the promotional strategy?

  • You enlarge what's there already, which was the Paquiao was so sensationally KOd by Juan Marquez that fight fans might think PacMan was still out there in the regions of space.  Expounding on this scenario, and magnifying it by comments to the sports press, incites the general boxing fan to believe they will  see Brandon Rios 'shock the world.'    In fact, the only shock fight fans will get will come when they see they 60 dollar cable bill.
  • The second embellishment is that you portray a Manny Pacquiao who is distracted by the typhoon in his country, by his political life, and by a long layoff.  That anyone would consider this any more than a fleeting thought astounds me.  Professional fighters may get sick, injure themselves, do foolish things as Mike Tyson did in his first loss to Buster Douglas, but they are not any more distracted when they step into the ring than a football player who does a tap dance in the end zone.  This scenario would only have credibility if Manny Pacquiao had his legs tied together.   You have to remember, even with the hard partying that Mike Tyson did in Japan, he still put Buster Douglas on his butt with a big uppercut that almost ended that fight.
  • Of course, the enlargement of Brandon Rios as an opponent is necessary to a good fight promotion.  Today, most sportswriters and fans speak of his slowness last night compared to Pacquiao's speed.  Perhaps some people, with the exception of the ENTIRE WORLD, had not noticed that before.  But Arum's crew, and Paquiao's crew, stitched together through comments, hints, suggestions, and various innuendo the idea that Rios was a force to be reckoned with rather than a symbol of courage in the public mind. 
  • HBO boxing commentators are fairly decent people, but even decent people are swept up into the sweepstakes of big money, big celebrity, and a sense of self-importance.  It's all part of promotion, and they work for HBO so they will contribute to drama even when drama is lacking.  When you heard Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman talk about Rios last week, you'd think they were talking about Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Okay, so the one thing I haven't mentioned is that most boxing fans enjoyed the fight. I got that impression, at least, from reading the commentaries beneath the fight coverage.  With regard to PacMan, some of the big questions were answered, one being that he can still take a punch (perhaps not punches in bunches but still) and that he has a great deal of personal courage and determination.

We knew that before though, didn't we?  Call this fight the way Yogi Berra might have, that is, a 'Deja vu all over again."

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