Pacquiao-Bradley: What Just Happened?
By Rafe Bartholomew for Grantland
In recent years, Arum and Top Rank have become somewhat notorious for their reluctance to make big fights with boxers promoted by other companies. Part of this is due to bad blood between Top Rank and the sport’s other leading promotional company, Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Productions. But rivalries aside, business is always better for Top Rank when they schedule a pay-per-view fight between two Top Rank stars. That way, once the fighters receive their guaranteed purses and negotiated percentages of the TV revenue, the rest of the pie goes straight to Top Rank. If Top Rank were to stage a fight in conjunction with Golden Boy or another major promoter, the company’s earnings would essentially be cut in half. This is believed to be why Bradley was never considered a likely opponent for Pacquiao until last year, when he left his former promoter and signed with Top Rank. It’s also one of the reasons why a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather has never been made. Even though Mayweather-Pacquiao would create the biggest payday in boxing history, Top Rank and Mayweather’s team would have to split that payday and the resulting profits might not exceed what Top Rank can make by pitting Pacquiao against an in-house fighter, even if the opponent is nowhere near as talented or famous as Mayweather.
Top Rank prefers to match Pacquiao with its own fighters, but Pacquiao has beaten nearly every credible foe (Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, and Marquez were all with the company when they fought Pacquiao) in Top Rank’s stable in recent years. According to the conspiracy theory, Pacquiao’s loss to Bradley solved the problem of finding Manny a November opponent. Instead of force-feeding the public a fourth Marquez fight, Top Rank can stage the Pacquiao-Bradley rematch, and they can reasonably expect the fight to generate greater profits than the first one, since Bradley’s public profile will grow and boxing fans will be keen to watch Pacquiao attempt to set the record straight with a knockout. Additionally, boxing trainer and analyst Teddy Atlas has suggested that with Pacquiao’s contract with Top Rank ending in 2013, the fighter may choose to leave the company next year. This would allow Pacquiao to negotiate his own promotional deals like Mayweather does. By doing so, Pacquiao would presumably be able to claim a much fatter slice of the earnings pie from his fights. According to this tributary of the conspiracy theory, Saturday night may have been Top Rank’s way of sending a message to Pacquiao: If you choose to leave next year, you might be doing so with two fresh losses on your record, and Mayweather might decide he no longer has to prove that he can beat you.
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