Manny Pacquiao: Is PacMan really returning in November?
On July 12, Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum dropped a bombshell on the boxing media, stating that longtime client and Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao would indeed be making his return to the professional ring on November 5, more than likely facing current 140 pound champion Terence Crawford or WBO Welterweight title holder Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The news of Manny's alleged return added intrigue to the already high stakes unification about between Crawford and former WBC Super Lightweight titlist Viktor Postol, which was staged this past Saturday, July 23, via HBO PPV. The idea that the winner could potentially earn a spot opposite the Pacman made the contest much more captivating, and subsequently garnered more attention from many mainstream media outlets.
Despite stoking the interest of many die-hard fight fans worldwide, and seemingly benefiting from the additional Pacquiao press leading into the controversial PPV, the often outspoken Top Rank CEO uncharacteristically declined to comment on Manny's comeback during the Crawford/Postol post-fight press conference.
When asked about the prospect of a potential "Pacquiao vs. Crawford" showdown in November, Bob had nothing to say to the customarily intrusive boxing media at the MGM Grand.
"Press conferences are for the fighters, and the fighters will answer the questions," insisted the 84 year old promoter. "I'm no longer going to perform for you guys."
Perform? Interesting choice of words, Bob.
Was the veteran fight promoter merely playing the media to help generate some much needed attention to his July 23 PPV event?
When looking at the fact that HBO already has a PPV lined up during the month of November, the highly anticipated Kovalev vs. Ward on 11/19, and the reality that Manny Pacquiao has yet to personally issue a definitive response to the rumors swirling around a November return, as well as the timing of Bob's initial proclamation of an alleged Pacman comeback, it's hard to ignore the possibility that Arum prematurely made the announcement of a Manny Pacquiao return specifically to help bolster attention and sales for his most recent PPV endeavor.
In a July 12 statement released by Senator Pacquiao, there is no confirmation, nor denial of an immediate return to boxing:
OFFICE OF HON. EMMANUEL D. PACQUIAO
SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES
THERE IS NO TRUTH TO MEDIA REPORTS THAT I’M PLANNING TO TAKE A LEAVE FROM MY SENATE DUTIES JUST TO FIGHT AGAIN ATOP THE RING.
I WANT TO MAKE IT CLEAR – MY PRIORITY IS MY LEGISLATIVE WORKS.
MY NEXT FIGHT HAS NOT YET BEEN DISCUSSED. SHOULD THERE BE ANY, I’LL MAKE SURE IT WILL NOT INTERFERE WITH MY SENATE DUTIES.
WHEN I RAN FOR SENATOR LAST MAY 9 ELECTIONS, I MADE A PROMISE TO BE PRESENT IN ALL SESSIONS.
I OWE IT TO THE PEOPLE.
IF EVER I DECIDE TO FIGHT AGAIN, REST ASSURED, IT WILL HAPPEN WHEN CONGRESS IS ON RECESS SO THERE’S NO NEED FOR ME TO GO ON LEAVE.
THE ENTIRE TRAINING WILL BE DONE IN THE PHILIPPINES TO ENSURE I CAN ATTEND SESSIONS EVEN WHILE ON TRAINING CAMP.
BOXING IS MY ONLY MEANS OF LIVELIHOOD TO SUPPORT MY FAMILY AND TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE IN NEED.
POLITICS, TO ME, IS A VOCATION NOT A MEANS TO EKE OUT A LIVING.
I WANT TO MAINTAIN THAT BELIEF. I WANT TO KEEP MY DIGNITY INTACT WHILE IN PUBLIC SERVICE.
MAY GOD CONTINUE TO GUIDE AND BLESS ALL OUR ENDEAVORS."
In a recent interview with OntheRopes.com, Freddie Roach seemed a bit uncertain as to when or if Manny was going to fight again.
"Now I’m hearing rumors about another fight but nothing definite yet," admitted the Hall of Fame fight trainer to 'On The Ropes Radio'. "Manny hasn’t called me yet, so there’s nothing that I have to worry about at this point. But if he does decide to fight again, he will call me and we’ll go over the opponent and who it may be."
"There’s a lot of rumors out there, but Manny still has a lot of fight left in him and the way that he trained for the last fight and the way he fought the last fight, I know he has at least two really good fights left in him."
So although the seven time trainer of the year seemed optimistic and hopeful, he clearly indicated that he wasn't certain whether or not Manny would indeed return to the ring this year.
Did Bob Arum play the media to garner some much needed attention toward his heavily scrutinized PPV event on July 23?
Despite being viewed as a terrific pairing between arguably the two best 140 pound fighters in the world, the event was criticized by fans as well as the boxing media for being staged on the HBO PPV platform. The match-up was perceived by most to be a customary subscriber HBO worthy bout...not a premium pay-per-view event with a $60 price tag.
Did the Hall of Fame promoter exaggerate Pacquiao's definitive return to add some much needed intrigue to the Super Lightweight unification contest, consequently raising the stakes of the match-up and encouraging more PPV buys?
Pacquiao's future plans could reveal Top Rank's actual intent.