COMMENTARY | WBC President for Life, Jose Sulaiman, has decided to hold nothing back when it comes to Juan Manuel Marquez and the fighter's upcoming fourth bout with Manny Pacquiao-- especially since he has no financial stake in the bout.
"The fourth version of Manny Pacquiao-Marquez is a fight without importance." Sulaiman told Yahoo! Deportes. "It's a fight without a championship at stake. It's a fight that's only interesting for those in the Philippines and Mexico-- nobody else in the world cares. It's a fight where the sole purpose is to fill a date, and that's all."
If the aged head of the World Boxing Council sounds more like a woman scorned than the head of a sanctioning body, it could be that he, indeed, feels scorned. Not long ago, Sulaiman made an attempt to put up his organization's "Diamond" belt for the upcoming big ticket pay-per-view clash.
"I would love to [sanction the bout]," Sulaiman told El Universal newspaper last month. "It would be historic because, if Juan Manuel Marquez wins, it would be the first time a Mexican wins it and if Pacquiao wins, he'd be the first to win it two times. Also, they definitely fit the requirement that only elite fighters could compete for the belt-- both are elite boxers."
However, it was recently announced that rival sanctioning body, the WBO, would get the honor of sanctioning the bout (and charging their sanctioning fee). Since Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight belt to Timothy Bradley last June and Marquez just vacated his WBO junior welterweight title to fight Pacquiao, the organization decided to invent a trinket for this big money bout-- The WBO "Champion of the Decade" belt.
Of course, along with the "honor" of such a title, there's the customary 3% sanctioning fee-- a substantial amount of money when considering the combined purse of the fighters involved. It could come to a seven-figure payday for the Puerto Rico-based sanctioning body, just for issuing some belt and allowing the promotion to use their organization's name.
And it was certainly enough money to set off the WBC's Sulaiman and kill all semblance of diplomacy from the 81-year-old. But rather than burn bridges with boxing cash cow, Pacquiao, the Mexico City native went after countryman and former WBC belt holder, Marquez.
Talking to Arturo Sacramento of Yahoo! Deportes, Sulaiman railed on Marquez, describing the 39-year-old future hall of famer as a fighter who became an idol because of his losses to Pacquiao and one who was not popular at all before those fights.
Characterizing Marquez as someone who chronically complains about his losses being robberies, the head of the WBC would even shoot down Marquez's claims of foul play following his most recent bout with Pacquiao-- saying that Marquez's complaints were without merit and only spurred on by a nationalistic Mexican broadcast crew. In the rest of the world, according to Sulaiman, Pacquiao clearly won.
But that's not what Sulaiman had to say back in November of last year, when Pacquiao was awarded a narrow majority decision victory over Marquez.
After telling Excelsior.com that he felt Marquez had won, he all but called for an investigation into the decision and even hinted at anti-Mexican racism as a reason behind the poor scoring.
"It's about a business decision. The promoters have the decks stacked in their favor. They do what they want...That's boxing in that climate, there in Las Vegas," Saulaiman said. "It's true that the Nevada State Athletic Commission has a certain animosity toward Mexican fighters, but they [the Mexican fighters] don't do anything about it. They keep going over there like dolts, without establishing any terms or conditions."
It should be noted that Marquez has been vocal in the past about Sulaiman's apparent favoritism for certain fighters, namely Saul Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. The bad blood is definitely there, but Sulaiman has been willing to overlook it as long as there's a sanctioning fee coming his way.
The double and triple-speak and multiple duplicity is enough to give any reasonable person a headache, but this is the way "Don" Sulaiman rolls. Playing both ends against the middle and counting on the fans' and media's willingness to overlook and/or conveniently forget his games, Sulaiman has been able to stay on top of the sport as WBC President for 37 years and will remain in that spot until he chooses to leave.
A benevolent friend to those who will play his game, a snide critic and professional roadblock to those who won't, this latest attack on Marquez and the upcoming Pacquiao-Marquez bout should surprise no one who follows the sport.
It also should surprise no one that, if Marquez and Pacquiao were to change their mind and agreed to pay 3% of their purse for the right to win the "Diamond" belt, Sulaiman would be back in their corner, extolling the virtues of a classic battle between two noble, elite superstars.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, and a close follower of the sport for more than 30 years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Arturo Sacramento, Juan Manuel Márquez se hizo ídolo por sus derrotas: Sulaimán, Yahoo! Deportes