Give audacious Bob Arum credit.
Top Rank’s top dog is turning the smoke of scandal into a possible marketing coup right before your eyes.
Hours after Manny Pacquiao’s shoulder surgery was declared a success this past week, Arum considered the possibility of a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. despite losing a lackluster unanimous decision.
Not a refund. A rematch.
Although Arum said it was still too early to consider a rematch — do you think? — the master promoter told the Review-Journal’s Steve Carp, “It would depend on his arm. He’s not going to risk his life to fight unless the doctors clear him and that he would go into the ring 100 percent.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but isn’t that essentially what Pacquiao just did?
While it’s good to know Arum is now keeping the public fully updated on the status of Pacquiao’s shoulder, a few questions remain from the great failure to communicate on the same topic in the weeks leading up to the Mayweather fight.
There’s also the matter of Arum’s attempt to push Nevada Athletic Commission Chairman Francisco Aguilar and other officials into allowing Pacquiao to receive an injection of an approved anti-inflammatory just two hours before the bout after previously failing to fully inform the regulators of the injury. Multiple sources confirm Arum was more than a little animated. The line between advocacy and bullying is sometimes thin.
Then there’s the problem with the accuracy of Pacquiao’s pre-fight physical questionnaire. Signed under penalty of perjury, it didn’t disclose the existence of the right rotator cuff tear. Was it also an oversight?
“Had the Nevada State Athletic Commission had knowledge of Manny’s injuries, say a couple weeks ago, because it allegedly took place four weeks ago, it would have given us at least some period of time for our ringside physician, in concert with our orthopedic specialist, to review Manny’s records with Manny’s physicians and Mr. Arum,” NAC Executive Director Bob Bennett told a reporter recently. “And hopefully we would be in a position to negotiate a win-win situation provided it didn’t put the fighter’s health and safety at risk.”
Even with just two hours notice, commissioners and Bennett managed to interview Pacquiao’s doctors to ensure the fighter wasn’t entering the ring one-armed. Imagine the embarrassment to the state if the regulators hadn’t acted quickly and done their due diligence on a tight deadline.
“It’s important that the commission have all the facts and all the information,” Aguilar cautioned Friday. “It’s going to be a slow, methodical process. We’re not going to jump the gun or make accusations. … As a government agency, we have a responsibility to the licensees to provide due process, but we also have responsibility to gather the facts and make a determination based on that information.”
If this were Top Rank and Team Pacquiao’s first trip to the bright lights of the big city, they might have an excuse for the lack of transparency and, some would argue, deception. But there isn’t much wiggle room here.
Now that the state is investigating, perhaps we’ll get some questions answered.
Here’s one that’s been bothering me: What was really behind the problems with the distribution of those exorbitantly priced tickets?
Although it’s not part of the commission’s purview, those associated with the bout traditionally receive plenty of tickets and are free to sell them. Of course, someone caught trying to game the system or failing to pay taxes on the ducats might find themselves with other trouble.
Does the name Dominic Frontiere sound familiar?
As the husband of Los Angeles Rams owner Georgia Frontiere, he went to prison for tax evasion after getting caught scalping thousands of tickets to the 1980 Super Bowl. No one associated with the Mayweather-Pacquiao event would be that greedy, would they?
Then there’s the gambling question. A training injury could have had a dramatic impact on the fight’s betting odds. It’s also a valuable piece of information to possess. Fortunately for the state and the combatants, no bookmaker has made public any concerns about the flow of the gambling patterns.
“We’d be all over it,” Las Vegas Dissemination Co. Vice President Vinny Magliulo said. “We’d know about it immediately.”
The fight was the highlight of a huge sports betting weekend that included $6.8 million in wagers on the Kentucky Derby alone and substantial action on NBA and NHL playoff games. While the number of wagers tilted in favor of Pacquiao, Magliulo said large bets came late on Mayweather. The underdog-to-favorite shift was anticipated.
Even with Mayweather laughing at the prospect, don’t think for a minute a rematch is out of the question.
I’d almost bet Arum is already working on it.
After we get some questions answered.
John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Email him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. Find him on Twitter: @jlnevadasmith