Mayweather-Pacquiao: Explosive Scandal Mushrooming

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It did not take long, in fact, the current explosive and mushrooming scandal involving the principles and management teams in the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight started three weeks prior to the actual fight. When Manny Pacquiao injured his shoulder in training and subsequent testing including an MRI indicated that Pacman had suffered a torn rotator cuff, a choice had to be made. Two clear options were on the table. To wit: Go ahead with the fight along with massage and physical therapy, strategic use of anti-inflammatory medication, injury therapeutic training, and hope for the best. The second option was to postpone the fight, get requisite surgery, and hope for a quick recovery in order to reschedule the fight.

Both options were fraught with risk. If Pac were to go ahead with the fight, he may well be left without full use of his right hand, one that plays an obvious role in setting up his power left hand and is used as a power-hand itself. If the fight were to be postponed, it was not at all clear that, given the tortuous nature of the negotiation process, that the fight could be rescheduled at all. Mayweather was too unpredictable, it was thought, to take the risk.

However, the main concern and what turned out to be the principle concern as well as causal agent in the currently highly explosive, exponentially mushrooming Mayweather-Pacquiao scandal, the huge payout that was at risk. Discussions about the upcoming fight and what should be done, in the end, were determined not by what was in Pac’s best interest, or his legacy, but the risk of losing the massive payout that by now was a sure thing. In the view of an increasing many, it is felt that Pacquiao was not well served by a management team, including his lead trainer Freddie Roach, in allowing the fight to go forward.

Being a man of faith, Pacquiao was convinced that God had delivered Mayweather into his hands and that victory was a sure thing. While Pac exhibited commendable faith, and in many respects, it is his faith that helped make him the magical personality he is, someone, anyone on his team should have stepped in to bring a bit of perspective and common sense into play.

The injury Pac sustained, similar to the rotator tear suffered by Kobe Bryant that ended his Lakers’ season in January 2015, is a significant injury. The rotator cuff, a complex of muscles in the shoulder that through strategic contraction, give the shoulder, at the ball-and-joint, appropriate movement is absolutely required in a boxing match. For a boxer, it is not just employed for movement, but to sustain and absorb the impact of punches. When a tear compromises the integrity of the cuff, punchers are not only unable to throw punches in proper form, but the cascading effect is that punches, awkwardly thrown, cannot be thrown with authority, speed, or with sustained power. Upon impact, the tear site exhibits sometimes toe-curling pain. Not only this, but punches lose their power at impact as the cuff tends to buckle instead of remaining firm. Thus, Pacquiao’s injury left him with little choice but to fight straight ahead, lining his left up for down-the-middle shots.

When the bell rang for round one, spectators and fans throughout the world noticed that something was wrong. That is, the whirling dervish that is the traditional Pacquiao fight style was now a traditional, straight-ahead style with little movement. Mayweather commented after the fight that he knew, as Pac continued to employ this fight style and strategy, that the fight was essentially over. As Pac continued this approach into round two and three, viewers were stunned at the lack of meaningful activity and sense of urgency that Pac normally fights with.

As it turns out, Pac’s management team conspired to withhold information of an injury from the press, as well as the Nevada Athletic Commission. The decision to go ahead with the fight, for fear of losing the Powerball-esque payout, was further complicated and made dangerous as Top Rank failed to fill out requisite paperwork prior to the fight, so that Pacman could get an anti-inflammatory shot just prior to the fight. Pac’s team had not only assumed that the NAC would permit the shot, but were expecting it. The problem, however, with full disclosure in advance of the fight, Top Rank assumed, was that Mayweather’s team might well get this information and look to exploit it.

Bob Arum was quick to lay blame at the feet of the NAC for its failure to permit the shot, but what he did not include, until he was later called on the carpet, was that he attempted to embed the injury in a list of medications used in training camp without explicitly revealing the injury itself. The head of the NAC felt that this attempt to hide the information, then plead innocence arguing that he had intended to comply with the rules, was really an attempt to “screw” with the rules. Thus, Arum, in trying to hide the injury, willingly played a bit of Russian roulette with the MayPac fight assuming that he could argue his way into getting an anti-inflammatory shot at the last-minute without having to actually play by the rules. The NAC saw through this attempt at manipulation and would have none of it.

In the end, Francisco Aguilar of the NAC felt that Arum and Top Rank were attempting to manipulate the process and were denied the shot. Had the shot been allowed, it would have decreased the significant inflammation surrounding the tear, worked to de-volumize the ischemic fluid compromising full range of motion in the affected area, and in so doing, provided a deep measure of pain relief. Thus, it would have allowed Pac to use his shoulder with impunity. However, even then, as Pac’s management team was well aware, in going ahead with the fight under those circumstances, there was a very significant risk of doing serious harm to Pac’s injury site literally putting future use of his right shoulder at risk. Because of the eye-popping, explosive nature of the current mushrooming scandal involving the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, this particular aspect of the brouhaha is getting little press.

Once the decision was made not to allow the anti-inflammatory shot, Pac, still in a mood to fight assuming that God would help him through it, adjusted his mind accordingly and prepared for the fight. Without a miracle, however, Pac, despite the smile and positive outlook, was going to be defeated. One does not fight a well-schooled and prepared Mayweather with essentially one arm and expect anything other than the outcome the world stood witness to.

To add insult to injury, the Mayweather camp has taken great joy in the apparent comedy of errors on display by Pacquiao’s management team. There is clear and expressed sentiment amongst the Money Team that Mayweather dodged a bullet. With his stated timetable and projected last fight in September, the very formidable threat that is a healthy Pacman has been dodged and the public, none-the-wiser, has given Money credit for a win that even insiders know is not well deserved.

At the end of the day, when history writes the book on this particular event, where the two greatest fighters of their generation met, it will indicate a victory by one Floyd Mayweather Jr. The asterisk that should properly footnote the affair should read that there really never was a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, as the currently mushrooming scandal should suggest, as Mayweather fought a man who could not use his right arm. It should continue to note that Pac’s management team let him down, and led him into a fight he could not have, under the circumstances, hoped to win. For all that Top Rank has done for Manny Pacquiao, it, together with Michael Koncz and Freddie Roach, might have thought better of Pacquiao, his health, and legacy than the fat paycheck they were about to cash.

Commentary By Matthew R. Fellows

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Photo By: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier -Creativecommons Flickr License

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