Marquez vs Pacquiao and the HBO Bias!

boxingBy P.H. Burbridge - Over the last few days you’ve read and heard a mountain of opinions on Manny Pacquiao.  His performance Saturday night versus arch rival Juan Manuel Marquez was certainly disappointing to his fans because they went into the fight believing that Marquez was finally ready to be taken.  Decisively and by KO!  All the pertinent factors were in their favor.  Three years had passed making it practically a guarantee that Juan Manuel was past his prime and during that time he engaged in intense wars with the likes of Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis. But perhaps the most telling event came when he was out technique’d in shut out fashion by Floyd Mayweather Jr fighting at a similar weight (over 140 lbs) in which Marquez looked slow, soft and with little zip on his punches.  Oh, and let’s not forget that he was also 38 years old!  Damn near every talking head wrote a variation of “he’s in BIG trouble” which increased the perception that Marquez was certain to fall.  In fact, considering all the public pessimism any logical person would conclude that Marquez was every bit the 9-1 underdog that the Vegas intelligentsia made him out to be. 

But, once again he didn’t fight like one.

The legacy of Juan Manuel Marquez is filled with him doing things he’s not supposed to be able to do and it’s quite clear that Team Pacquiao (Freddie Roach and Bob Arum) grossly underestimated Marquez and grossly overestimated Manny Pacquiao’s technical improvement over the years since their last meeting.  We’ve heard nothing but a constant drone from damn near every mountain top from boxing “expert’s” singing the praises of Manny Pacquiao being a “complete fighter” yet, his performance against a massively handicapped (or thought to be) foe tends to refute that claim.  So, what IS the issue?   You’ve heard a small minority say that they have seen signs of slippage that began in the Mosley fight but those opinions were largely muted and were explained away by blaming Shane for fighting almost exclusively in survival mode.  Not to mention, Manny had “leg cramps” which is again being cited for Saturday night’s lack luster performance. This after we’ve been told over and over again that “this camp was different”. According to Roach “there was a SPECIAL intensity to Manny for this one” and “this was personal”. Going in all indications were that Manny was 100% dedicated and prepared but now we’re being told “well, he might have been distracted”…..The truth of the matter is that he’s ALWAYS distracted with a 60 person entourage and going on talk shows the night before the fight so its not fair to Marquez to imply these things.

The reality is Manny Pacquiao does not have the technical capacity to beat Juan Manuel Marquez decisively and no one knows this better than Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach. This thing backfired in their face in the worst possible way because Marquez was supposed to be done just like Shane Mosley was done just like Antonio Margarito was done just like Joshua Clottey was “offensively passive” just like Miguel Cotto was “damaged goods” and so on. That’s why JMM got the fight. Remember there were a whole lot of people scoffing at this match up when it was initially made and the prevailing sentiment was this was going to be a slaughter, a tune up, a professional bitch slap, etc….! Roach who has been exceptional in assessing how long it will take Manny to finish his opponent off is apparently losing his physic powers because this is the second fight in a row where he was way off! But, what we’ve really learned is that the Top Rank / Freddie Roach propaganda machine has been selling us Pacquiao porn and Manny is only slightly better technically than the fighter we saw Juan Manuel Marquez face back in 2008.

That’s the lesson we’ve learned!

Manny looked absolutely miserable in the corner against Juan Manuel Marquez.  I scored the fight 115 – 113 for Marquez.  It honestly wasn’t that hard of a fight to score because it was quite clear who was dictating the pace and who came out on top in damn near every exchange.  Yes, it was close but it was also clear who landed the more telling blows.  That’s all…..You know who else agrees with that conclusion??  Team Pacquiao otherwise they wouldn’t be clinging to a FOURTH fight against Marquez to avoid a Mayweather fight.  Ordinarily a promoter would wait for the total PPV buy rate to be tallied to determine if it makes business sense to do another fight.  Arum’s not doing that and is hoping that the controversy will allow him to rake in another all Top Rank promoted event.  Arum knows and certainly Roach knows that what we saw Saturday night doesn’t beat Mayweather.  We all know that the Mayweather fight will be the biggest in history and makes the most financial sense for Manny but it doesn’t make the most financial sense for Top Rank and Arum wouldn’t be Arum if he couldn’t read the writing on the wall. 

If he puts Manny in with Floyd the Top Rank train will come to a screeching halt.

Top Rank would be relegated to pushing Donaire, Chavez Jr, Brandon Rios….or maybe try and build Bradley up to Floyd but the bottom line is the next biggest money maker on the roster is Miguel Cotto and after December 3rd someone else might move up a notch.   Top Rank goes from “A” status to “B” if Manny loses.  That’s what at stake and why Arum is trying to sneak in a fourth fight which in today’s boxing environment is highly unusual.   It does two things.  It allows total control and revenue for another Top Rank promotion and it also allows Floyd to age a little bit more.  (Hey, who knows….? It’s worth a shot.)

The judging has been almost universally panned for this fight with Moretti and Trowbridge being called everything from blind to on the “take” so you know the judges for a fourth meeting will be under a RED HOT spotlight. Manny will HAVE to deliver a dominant performance because if he doesn’t he won’t get the benefit of the doubt. My opinion is that we’ll get a repeat of what we saw Saturday night and Marquez will FINALLY be awarded the decision. The recent public outcry nearly guarantees that result under the circumstances.

But, on to my next topic….

There’s kind of an unspoken rule not to point out certain things about HBO in print.  In fact, boxing websites cringe whenever a scribe writes anything questioning the most important boxing network today so let me be clear that I’m expressing my own opinion and not that of Eastside Boxing.   But, let me also say that over the years many of the other writers I correspond with have made the exact same comments albeit in private conversation.

Juan Manuel lost this fight before he even walked into the ring as far as the powers that be at HBO were concerned.  Practically all the media looked at this fight as suicide as did the head of the WBC, José Sulaimán who along with Bob Arum routinely remind us of what’s truly wrong with professional boxing today.  So, the overall impression was that this was going to be a business as usual affair for Manny.

To add to Marquez’s perceptual burden the “judges” incompetent ratio was 2 out of 3 which is never a good thing.

But the one sour point of the night that really annoyed me to no end was HBO! 

How many more years are we going to be forced to listen to Jim Lampley’s light weight, cheerleading rhetoric, Emanuel Steward’s utter destruction of the English language and Max Kellerman’s arrogance dipped in sarcasm.!?!?  Thank GOD, Merchant wasn’t on the call or we’d still be waiting for him to deliver one of his slow as molasses dismissive quips!!  Are they biased!?!  NO QUESTION!!! I could literally go back 20 YEARS all the way to the Chavez – Taylor fight and recount one biased call after another.  I’m still trying to forget some of the one sided calls over the years. So, much so that I watch fights with the volume turned all the way down. HBO pick’s their guy and regardless of what’s actually happening in the ring they tailor their comments to support that guy…….And the folk’s in the truck almost always replay sequences to support their “misinformation”….

It used to be that Sugar Ray Leonard was the “darling” then the 1984 Gold Medal winners and so on…  But, now it’s Manny Pacquiao!   Every single person reading this who gets the HBO feed knows exactly what I’m talking about and to some extent the fact that HBO continues to allow it speaks to an overall lack of integrity but more troubling it’s an insult to boxing fans.  They’re hurting the sport by not being objective with their comments. Either its complete incompetence or its intentional….Either way it needs to be addressed! That goes double for Harold Lederman who’s scores over the years have left not only I but MANY fight fans asking “is the fix in? Did HBO decide who they needed to win this fight for economic reasons before the fighters even entered the ring?”  Lederman’s scoring for Saturday nights fight was horrendous which was only exceed by his explanation of how he arrived at those conclusions. HBO is the premier boxing network in the world and they have the resources to do better.  Much better!!

Its one thing to see a guy do the job and not get the nod but it’s something completely else to hear a group of “company men” trying and convince you to ignore your own eyes.

There is a LEGACY of one sided calls by this group that almost seems institutional in nature and I PRAY that Ken Hershman brings in a team to review some of the more biased calls and either corrects the problem or makes a change. 

Now, the MAJORITY of writers, boxing analysts and fans believe Marquez won a close but clear decision so somebody please explain to US how we’re all wrong and the folk’s calling the fight got it right??

Continue to voice your disapproval on the forums and to all you scribes, “SAY SOMETHING” because we pay top dollar for these events and DEMAND realistic UNBIASED commentary!!

(Please feel free to contact P.H. Burbridge via email at with any comments or feedback.)  

Article posted on 17.11.2011

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