26.11.07 – by Matthew Hurley: Last week The Philippine Star quoted a source close to the Manny Pacquiao camp that the Filipino fighter had decided upon World Boxing Council lightweight champion David Diaz as his opponent for the open date of March 15th at the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas. It was no secret that Pacquiao’s two most viable opponents were either Diaz, who promoter Bob Arum seemed to prefer and who is promoted by Top Rank, or Juan Manuel Marquez, who most fans and media scribes preferred. In the end, the choice may finally come down to Pacquiao himself..
According to Pacquiao’s advisor Wakee Salud, now doing a 180 degree turn, Diaz may have to wait. “It’s very possible that it’s Marquez (who will be the next opponent),” he recently told the Philippine Star. “It looks like Marquez. But the bluffing continues. Golden Boy Promotions is hot on Pacquiao. They want the fight in March. Not July.”
Arum’s desire for Pacquiao to face Diaz first makes financial sense for the promoter’s firm Top Rank. In the wake of the promotional struggle over Pacquiao that went on early this year between Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, the two firms finally came to an agreement over monetary dispensation in regards to the fighter’s future bouts. Pacquiao had verbally accepted terms to a Golden Boy Promotions contract and then reneged on his intentions to be promoted under the Golden Boy Banner. He returned to Arum which made communications between the two rival promotional firms even icier than they had been. A settlement was finally reached which gave Golden Boy a significantly larger sum of the promotional share should Pacquiao face a Golden Boy promoted fighter, which Marquez is. That chunk of change would also include a fighter such as Joan Guzman, another Golden Boy fighter. Juan Diaz, the WBA, WBO and IBF lightweight champion is promoted by Don King and his contract doesn’t expire until March of 2008. Arum has already indicated that he will not be on Pacquiao’s dance card until King is out of the picture.
At the end of the day boxing fans have been steadfast in their desire to see a rematch between Marquez and Pacquiao, who fought to a spirited draw in 2004. The media has also been harping on this long overdue match up and it made little difference that Arum and Pacquiao insisted that the fighter would step in the ring three times in 2008, thereby assuring a Marquez fight at some point. Boxing fans are starting to become accustomed to getting what they want, as they should for the amount of money they spend on pay per view events, and with the war between Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank essentially over the fans have reaped the benefits. That’s not to say that a monkey wrench won’t be thrown into the mix at some point. But as 2007 winds down boxing fans have been treated to one stellar match up after another and they are not about to settle for marginal entries now. Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank and fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez realize this and have no other recourse than to, “give ‘em what they want.”
As for Diaz, he might just be on the backburner for now. All he could say in comment to the latest news was that he would just have to wait and see like everyone else.
Marquez, meanwhile, told Boxingtalk that, “We’ve accepted their terms. Now it’s up to Bob Arum and Manny Pacquiao to decide if they will fight me or keep running.”