- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 10, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

HBO threw two handfuls of salt Saturday night into the wounds of the American public who shelled out $100 million one week earlier to watch the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao record-setting pay-per-view fight.

First, there was the customary free rebroadcast of the fight you just paid for — a rerun of anger and frustration for the much-anticipated bout that fell flat on its face.

Then, HBO showed a real fight — a junior middleweight, short but action-packed fight between Canelo Alvarez and James Kirkland, something that you probably would have rather paid to watch than Mayweather-Pacquiao. It ended with a thunderous knockout blow by Alvarez in the third round of their fight at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

So, if you weren’t still seething from spending your money on May 2, you must be really be fuming if you watched the boxing doubleheader Saturday night on HBO — a defendant, along with Showtime (which also rebroadcast the fight Saturday night), cable outlets, promoters and a host of others who sold the bill of goods the public bought in several class-action lawsuits.



Much of the outrage is directed toward Pacquiao and the fact that he had injured his shoulder while training and failed to disclose it to Nevada boxing officials. That resulting in his inability to receive a pain-killing shot the night of the fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

But if you feel you were hoodwinked, it goes far deeper than how healthy or hurt Pacquiao was for the fight and what they failed to tell you while pocketing your $100.

The whole Pacquaio sales pitch for years was a scam — built on the backs of hand-picked, washed-up or damaged opponents, beaten by an exciting, charismatic, great super featherweight champion who jumped 17 pounds in weight in one year and somehow brought a power punch along with him.

Pacquiao was never going to beat Mayweather, even if he had George Foreman’s 1973 Kingston, Jamaica right shoulder surgically implanted for the May 2 fight.

HBO provided all the evidence you needed Saturday night in the Alvarez-Kirkland fight.

Alvarez has been considered for several years the next great young fighter out of Mexico. He is 24 years old, nearly 5-foot-10 fighting at 154 pounds, and has lost just one time in 47 fights — to Mayweather nearly two years ago.

Mayweather gave Alvarez a boxing lesson that September night in 2013 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. He dominated the highly-touted Alvarez while hardly breaking a sweat. He won a majority decision, but that was only because judge C.J. Ross turned in an embarrassing 114-114 scorecard for the 12-round bout. Judge Dave Moretti scored it 116-112 for Mayweather, while judge Craig Metcalfe had perhaps the most accurate card, awarding the fight to Mayweather with a 117-111 score.

Mayweather didn’t do anything against Pacquiao on May 2 that was different than what he did against Alvarez — or most of his other opponents. He attacked at will and never put himself in harm’s way — against a bigger man.

Imagine Pacquiao in the ring against the likes of Alvarez.

Pacquiao reportedly had successful surgery last week to repair a torn rotator cuff, and according to some reports, may be out for a year. Don’t be surprised if the next time we do see Pacquiao, he’s not a welterweight anymore, possibly dropping down to 140 pounds.

“I just think it’s much better for Manny to fight at 140,” Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, told reporters in November, seven months before he fought Mayweather at 147 pounds.

Maybe that’s why ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas said before the Mayweather fight, “Manny’s not the puncher that he was six years ago. He’s not even as big physically. You figure out why. I don’t know. There’s a distinct difference in the Manny of six years ago and the Manny now.”

I’m shocked.

The whole Mayweather-Pacquiao controversy is not boxing’s death knell. It is the seedy corner of sports, where scandals and scams are the cost of doing business. There was a larger audience exposed to that as a result of the Mayweather-Pacquiao debacle and it may have caught them by surprise. But this isn’t the NFL. There’s no Ted Wells report coming. You paid, you lost.

While on a scaled-down level, boxing may be about to enter a bit of a renaissance, with more boxing on network television in the next two years than in the last 10. That’s thanks to behind-the-scenes power broker Al Haymon and his Premier Boxing Champions venture, which is buying time on CBS, NBC, Spike and other networks to broadcast fights. A card televised by CBS on Saturday afternoon featured two good bouts — lightweights Omar Figueroa versus Ricky Burns, and bantamweight Jamie McDonnell faced Tomoki Kameda. The early returns from the Saturday night NBC shows have produced good ratings.

Like a cockroach, boxing will live on.

As far as the sore feelings you still may be carrying from paying $100 the night of May 2, don’t be mad at Mayweather, who did what he always does — make opponents look bad, like he did to Alvarez.

No, be mad at Pacquiao, who was an illusion as a fighter in the same class with Mayweather.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.

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