Manny Pacquiao made a big statement last month in his first bout as a lightweight. He won the WBC championship by throttling David Diaz and, in the process, became the division's go-to guy.
These days, if you want to make any money at lightweight, you have to fight Pacquiao. The division may be the best in boxing, with elite talents like Nate Campbell, Juan Diaz, Juan Manuel Marquez and Joan Guzman now competing as 135-pounders.
Edwin Valero, who is moving up from junior lightweight, will probably get the first crack at Pacquiao later this year, adding another exciting and quality fighter to the division.
Given that many of the other best lightweights are already signed to fight each other, it would seem to make great promotional and marketing sense to put those fights together on the same card and have something of a round-robin tournament with the intention of trying to create a challenger in the public's mind to Pacquiao.
Diaz and Michael Katsidis are fighting each other Sept. 6 in Houston on HBO in a bout that each man, coming off a devastating defeat, desperately needs to win.
A week later, Campbell and Guzman will meet on Showtime for Campbell's WBA, WBO and IBF belts. That same night, on HBO Pay-Per-View in Las Vegas, Joel Casamayor, the linear lightweight champion, will face Marquez, who is moving up from 130 in an effort to chase Pacquiao.
Instead of placing those fights on three separate cards, would it not have made sense to put them on the same card and bill it as Step One in determining a legitimate challenger to Pacquiao?
Even worse, though, is the fact that HBO and Golden Boy Promotions have somehow decided to put that Casamayor-Marquez fight on pay-per-view. Marquez is a highly exciting fighter, but he's been a very poor ticket seller throughout his career.
And Casamayor's best days are well behind him, his knockout victory over Katsidis earlier this year notwithstanding.
There is no way – none – that fight belongs on pay-per-view and fans ought to be outraged.
There is precious little ire among the boxing public, I suspect, because they've simply tuned out at this stage.
There are plenty of loyal, enthusiastic boxing fans who simply have given up trying to regularly follow the sport because it's such an expensive proposition. Asking fight fans in this economy to pay $49.95 to watch Casamayor-Marquez is like asking them to pay $25 for a burger at McDonald's.
HBO spent a large part of its boxing budget on the May 3 fight in Los Angeles between Oscar De La Hoya and Steve Forbes that, from the moment it was conceived, was designed to be nothing more than an infomercial to promote the planned rematch later in the year between De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The public, thankfully, saw through the sham and the ratings on HBO were decidedly average. Less than 20 years before, George Foreman was garnering ratings on HBO that were four and five times what the De La Hoya-Forbes fight drew.
But given that HBO spent so much promoting that show, its purse strings are tighter as the year comes to an end. And so in other circumstances, when it would have seen the wisdom of putting the six lightweights on the same card, it failed to buy one of the fights and then dropped the other onto pay-per-view.
That's because they couldn't afford to pay the exorbitant asking prices of Casamayor and Marquez. But you know what? When times are tough, you're not always going to get top-dollar fees, especially when you're not in demand.
Casamayor has never been a ticket seller. Marquez has only done well with Pacquiao and, to a lesser extent, Marco Antonio Barrera, opposite him.
This is no different than eBay, where an item is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it. When the managers of Casamayor and Marquez hit the market looking for a fight, the market would have quickly let them know they were reaching too far. Boxing is a dangerous and frequently brutal sport and the fighters deserve to be compensated fairly for the risk they take. But, significantly, it shouldn't come at the expense of the public.
Golden Boy is all too quick to turn to pay-per-view. Its Oct. 11 show featuring Shane Mosley and retread Ricardo Mayorga is another unbelievably galling pay-per-view show. And while few outside of those trying to sell it see Casamayor-Marquez as a compelling bout, if Golden Boy and HBO Pay-Per-View really were thinking of the fans, they'd have put those two fights on the same card and given the fighters more for the money.
Top Rank puts on pay-per-view shows once it's unable to sell it to a network. It's risking its own money in that case in order to try to put out compelling content.
The thin-skinned Ross Greenburg, the embattled president of HBO Sports, is angry at Bob Arum for the frequent broadsides Arum takes at him.
It may not be the wisest way to do business, but it's hard not to believe that Arum is right nine times out of 10 when he's complaining about Greenburg and the way HBO treats his company. You can rest assured that if Arum were promoting Casamayor-Marquez, HBO would have had nothing to do with it, pay-per-view or not.
Golden Boy, though, is the favored child. That's fine, since the company has obviously profited handsomely from its association with De La Hoya and his company.
But it's about time someone stood up for the boxing fan and told Golden Boy and HBO these mediocre fights have no place on pay TV.
They'll only understand one thing, though.
And so the only solution is to boycott.
Don't buy the pay-per-view Sept. 13 and you'll take a step in solving the problem that is eroding boxing's fan base like rocks along a shoreline.
As Nancy Reagan once said, just say no.
- Manny Pacquiao
- Juan Manuel Marquez
- Joel Casamayor
- Oscar De La Hoya