Sunday, September 11, 2011

Game of Thrones Part I: An Outlook and Perspective on the Direction of Combat Sports Entertainment Approaching 2012 associate writer "Fight Pimp" offers an outlook on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the ratings wars between the big three in combat sports entertainment -- boxing, MMA, and pro wrestling.

This is part 1 of  a three part series.

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Who shall win the treacherous, skull crushing gambit of Pay-Per-View in 2011 ?

We have reached the final stretch, the last quarter, the RED ZONE of the 2011 combat sports entertainment Pay-Per-View race. I will lay down the lineage of hate and provide the past transgressions of each family vying for the position of RULER of the KINGDOM. The court is filled with back-stabbing, false alliances, shady deals and shadowy forces that will establish the map of the new combat sports landscape in 2012. There will be treasure and triumph, solidarity and sacrifice, drama and drawbacks! However, each power will face the ultimate test of dedication in a downtrodden economy to see who shall reign victorious.

The House of Pugilists

King of the Mountain: Manny Pacquiao
The Pound 4 Pound King of boxing sits upon his throne at the top of the mountain. This is the best and worst place to be. On the good side, Pacquiao has cemented his place in the history of boxing amongst the legends. When the pantheon of pugilistic greats are mentioned, his name will always be apart of the conversation. However, like those that have come before him; once you reach the top of the mountain the only way to go is down. No reign lasts forever. With complaints of pain in his back and leg muscles after his last two fights, a reluctance to take random drug tests during the ‘on-again/off-again’ negotiations with Floyd Mayweather very few in the commercial media have called into question the relationship of HGH and P.E.D’s with muscle and joint deterioration. Not saying that he’s using any performance enhancing drugs but no one has brought his reluctance into question. There has been ZERO investigative reporting about the potentially related issue. What will be investigated in the next few months is the silent buzz of Pacquiao’s finances. The tradition of boxing is aligned with ‘fiscal irresponsibility’ and ‘shady business ethics’ amongst the fighter’s entourage and promoters. Some say Manny Pacquiao’s personal and business interests have been protected by Bob Arum and to that I say, One man’s castle is another man’s prison. Where there’s smoke there’s fire and when it comes to boxers and mismanaged money, where there’s smoke there’s no water nor extinguishers, the flame simply rages on until the debris of ‘what was’ remains. The final curtain call for Manny will be 2012 due to the 2013 gubernatorial campaign race in the Philippines. He has one year left to make the fight of the century happen with this guy...

More after the break...

King of the Money: Floyd Mayweather
In his absence a host of names have emerged, in his return only one overshadows him. Floyd Mayweather has such a symbiotic relationship with the boxing ring it has become an extension of his existence. He knows every corner, crevice, square inch and centimeter of the structure. He possesses a fighter’s most valuable asset…SITUATIONAL AWARENESS. What’s even more impressive is his mastery of the format of television. HBO’s program 24/7 is the standard bearer of ‘Reality Television’ without peer (Better than ‘Tough Enough’ and better than ’The Ultimate Fighter’). Mayweather’s use of this format is most impressive because not only does he manage to evoke a similar reaction across the board from everyone watching, he instantly turns his opposition into the favorite with ease. If you watch only ten minutes of an episode you already know who you want to win, who you want to be severely beaten and understand the concept of triumph over tragedy within the spirit of combat. Villains like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his family aren’t new to being a centerpiece in the promotion of championship level boxing events. They’re just new to the modern format of media which he has total mental domination over; just as he does his opposition in the ring come fight night.

The Hand of the King: Bob Arum
He’s worked with, for and against the likes of Muhammad Ali, Harvard University, Don King, Oscar De La Hoya, the US Attorney’s office, HBO, Showtime, Gays, Skinheads and The FBI…there isn’t much he hasn’t seen, there isn’t a battle he hasn’t fought and there isn’t an opponent on the field of combat that he does not understand (with the exception of the culture of Mixed Martial Arts and The UFC). It has been speculated that Arum has intimate knowledge of the mismanaged finances of Manny Pacquiao and has intervened with his fighter’s business affairs relating to his alignment with ‘VISIONQWEST RESOURCE GROUP’. For complete details you would have to ask Top Rank adviser Michael Koncz and Bob Arum’s lawyer who happen to double as Manny Pacquiao’s business manager and lawyer as well…this is the world of boxing.

Most Powerful Force: Oscar de la Hoya, Rich Schaeffer GOLDEN BOY Promotions
Fresh from his stint in Rehab, Oscar DeLa Hoya is focused and re-energized to deal with the strain of retirement. Boxing since the age of 5 years old, like most athletes the life after the spotlight is more daunting than going into the ring, onto the filed or onto the court against your most menacing opponent. It is most fortunate for the former gold medal Olympian that he can leave his business in the more than capable hands of Richard Schaeffer who has done an excellent job of running the show during the Oscar’s absence. With a firm grasp on the pipeline of talent and a more than solid relationship with HBO, Golden Boy is a powerful entity in the land of boxing and will remain so against any and all threats to its position in the Pay-Per-View game.

Sacrificial Lambs: Victor Ortiz/Juan Manuel Marquez
Since Buster Douglass there has never been a pawn that has had the power to obliterate the chessboard of boxing match ups for the next 3 to 5 years. Both Ortiz and Marquez pose competitive threats to Mayweather and Pacquiao and both hold the biggest wrenches in the history of boxing waiting to be hoisted into the machine of promotional mayhem. Here are the scenarios…

A) If Mayweather and Pacquiao Win, the fight of the century will happen in 2012

B) If Mayweather loses and Pacquiao wins, we have a great fight but not legendary fight w/ Ortiz vs Pacquaio

C) If Mayweather Wins and Pacquiao loses, with no one else to fight Mayweather retires for another 18 months waiting for another guy to be built up.

D) If Mayweather and Pacquiao both lose, we have two great ‘upset of the century’ rematches or Ortiz vs Marquez…I would hate to see this happen but I can already hear Jim Lampley shouting “It Happened, It Happened”.

Shadowy Threat from the North: Al Haymon
If you ran a google seach a page full of question marks would pop up. His name is heard, his face never seen. He has immeasurable clout and pull with everyone from HBO to state athletic commissions. All that is known of Al Haymon is that he promoted Urban R&B shows with Keith Sweat, Al B. Sure and Ashford and Simpson in the 80’s and 90’s. Watch any fight on HBO with African American fighters and you will most assuredly you will hear his name.

2011 Pay-Per-View Estimates to Date: 1,550,000

The Ace up the Sleeve
Golden Boy and Top Rank forming an alliance to co-promote. This is happening as you are reading this article. All of the up and coming boxing talent under one tent is something that hasn’t been imagined since they co-promoted in 2009. With the new crop of talent (Gamboa, Canelo Alvarez, Chavez Jr, Nonito Donaire, Amir Kahn) you can bet that boxing is not only primed for a exciting conclusion of 2011 but a meteoric impact for its 2012 campaign.