Many, if not most, fight fans expected Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez to renew their rivarly this fall, and were eager to see if Pacquiao could shrug off the KO loss at Marquez's hands last December. But Marquez threw us a curveball, deciding that he doesn't want to face Pacquiao again, that he wants to savor the memory of dropping and stopping Manny, and let that be the exclamation-point chapter in their book of battle.
Pacquiao, it was announced on Monday, will fight in Macau on Nov. 24 -- Nov. 23 in the U.S. -- against California-based Brandon Rios.
I asked New York native Larry Merchant what he thought of Marquez's decision not to glove up with Manny, and instead face off with Timothy Bradley, who holds a controversial decision June 2012 victory over Pacman.
Was Merchant surprised that Marquez would turn down a fight which would earn him a career-best payday?
"It would be the most he's made if he could negotiate it, but maybe they [Top Rank, Pacquiao's promoter] didn't want to give him what he wanted," Merchant said. "And if Pacquiao's decision that he wants to fight in Macau had to do with money, then it looks like he's trying to do what Floyd Mayweather does, give the other guy as little as he can for the fight. As I understand it, taxes are less in Macau [than he would pay in the U.S.]."
Merchant said it will remain to be seen if such a tax-avoidance strategy would pay off, as we don't know if Pacquiao can draw the same gate, command the same ticket prices and draw a healthy pay-per-view number with a fight outside the U.S. without the same media attention and concentration that a fight in America would summon.
"Maybe the fact that lot of Filipino fans will come over and bet will be a part of that," Merchant continued. "I also think Marquez feels he can make as much for fighting Bradley and getting the bigger share of a smaller pie."
We often like to think that these warriors are doing it for personal pride as anything else, but we do get reminded that this is business for these sports entertainers. And most business decisions, when you get to the level of stature these pugilists are at, are made based on accumulating the most revenue with the least risk. I do suspect we will see another Pacquiao-Marquez bout, but Manny turns 35 in December and it wouldn't be a shocker if he called it quits before he was able to avenge the Marquez loss.