COMMENTARY | When Manny Pacquiao was left face-first on the canvas by a monstrous Juan Manuel Marquez right hand last December, who would've thought that it might've been the Filipino icon's last ring appearance in the United States?
But according to promoter Bob Arum and several Team Pacquiao insiders, it could very well be the case that the eight-division world champ has seen his last round of action on American territory.
Allegedly at the fighter's own insistence, the idea is to take Manny's services and peddle them elsewhere. The hugely popular fighter has been courted by Asian money men for quite some time, but given his recent losses, the need to rebuild, and the pull of keeping Pacquiao closer to home, the idea has only recently become a viable option.
Supposedly at the center of Pacquiao's decision to abandon the American market is a boost in federal taxes that could eat up as much as 39.6% of his earnings should he fight in his usual preferred venue of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
And while the fighter has rightfully balked at the tax rate, the emergence of powerful Asian gambling establishments, especially China's offshore resort of Macau, has made the move a no-brainer for him.
"Manny can go back to Las Vegas and make $25 million, but how much of it will he end up with - $15 million?" Arum recently told Yahoo! Sports. "If he goes to Macau, perhaps his purse will only be $20 million, but he will get to keep it all, so he will be better off."
The move, though, could destroy his pay-per-view presence in the United States. Arum, himself, estimates that overseas Pacquiao events could result in a 50% decline in buy rate in the American market. The loss would be felt by the cable companies, HBO Sports, and by Arum's promotional firm, Top Rank.
But none of that may mean a thing to Pacquiao, who calls the shots when it comes to his career-unless conveniently passing the buck to his promoter and manager when asked about facing an opponent, apparently, not to his liking.
In any case, Asian gambling resorts are overflowing with cash these days and actually out-earning their American counterparts by a significant amount. Pacquiao can easily take the hit of losing half of his American money, if the Asian money is already there and waiting.
But there's a more cynical theory regarding Pacquiao's decision to leave the U.S. behind and never look back.
A Pacquiao-hungry, somewhat boxing-naive Asian market cares little about proper match-ups or true challenges. They just want Manny. Pacquiao and his team will have the flexibility to fight whomever they want, whenever they want, and under whatever conditions they like. Pacquiao will be a fully independent entity, free of obligations to networks or state commissions. The opponents could be as hand-picked as his team wants and Manny will still be able to sell his performances to a star-struck Asian market. The end result would be more fights, easier fights, and much more money over the long haul.
Just as many European champs prefer to stay close to home, beating up journeymen in front of packed arenas full of naïve, adoring fans, Team Pacquiao could very well be eying the same cozy situation. As a matter of fact, Pacquiao manager Michael Koncz may have touched on the subject during a recent interview with Yahoo! Sports.
"We feel the real growth potential for Manny and his brand and fan base and all that is going to be in Asia," Koncz said. "He is so popular in the States, there is not much more we can do there."
Back in the United States, Pacquiao is looking at no more than three fights left in his grueling, Hall of Fame career. In Asia, under his own terms, he could fight indefinitely.
Hardcore fans may bristle at the idea of Pacquiao, one of this generation's very best, finishing out his career in what will essentially be a series of highly paid exhibitions. But, from a business perspective, it all makes sense. After all, boxing is first and foremost a business.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Source: Yahoo! Sports
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