x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Manny Pacquiao fans should get ready for 'The Upset in the UAE'

Even if the UAE represents the best global option for a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, the prospect still seems stuck on the doubtful edge of doubtful.

Manny Pacquiao is an eight-weight world champion.
Manny Pacquiao is an eight-weight world champion.

First off, the idea of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fighting on May 5 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is - what's the word, oh yeah, that's right - dumb.

By now, after two years of hyping, the match-up would have such stratospheric otherness that to place it before merely 16,000 people in a same old place, no matter how hallowed, would mark an achievement in staleness.

A bout like this should occur in a venue so ambitious that some of the distant spectators sit beyond a passport control booth.

In prescribing May 5 and the MGM on Twitter - "Pacquiao - whooping day" - Mayweather, a man with excellent business sense, practises lousy business sense, as if in some sort of hurry.

If you did not know better, you might guess he were heading to jail in June or something.

The "Rumble in the Jungle" of October 1974 took place in Kinshasha, Zaire.

The "Thrilla in Manila" of October 1975 took place in the Philippines.

Those events benefited in mystique forever from the one-off aura of their settings.

If Pacquiao-Mayweather winds up going to the humongous NFL stadium in Texas at some later time, at least that could overcome the drabness of Texas with a fitting Roman Empire quality.

But even if the UAE represents the best global option with its resources, its event experience, its deserving Filipino population, its global-hub status and its exotic freshness in boxing history, the prospect still seems stuck on the doubtful edge of doubtful.

You begin with the starting time, as Bob Arum did at a hotel restaurant in Baguio, Philippines, way back 10 months ago.

As a promoter trained to espy possibility, the Pacquiao promoter marvelled at both Dubai and Abu Dhabi themselves.

"The only problem is the time," he concluded.

It does raise wonder: would a 7am or 8am starting time, mandatory for the late-evening viewing for the New York pay-per-view audience, draw spectators? (Guess: yes.)

Would it allow Mayweather sufficient time to primp or, put another way, would a narcissist agree to appear in public that early? (Guess: maybe.)

He could always adjust his hours, and the Thrilla in Manila did begin at 10.45am, and the Rumble in the Jungle between 4am and 5am, but those were days of greater athletic imprecision, so the time does still wreak a fret.

From there, you go to the Himalaya of gibberish that has mounted across the last 24 months or so.

This whole anticipation has inflated into a gigantic ball of hot air hovering above the planet, probably visible from Venus.

Sometimes it appears that by the time they do fight, Mayweather will be 81 and Pacquiao will be 80, and the quality will suffer even if the fight will have its boons and curiosities. (Example: it's hard to get your teeth punched out if you don't have any.)

After all of this, it's hard to entertain any utterance of hope anymore.

This thing has gone round and round so many times that the American broadcaster Jim Lampley spoke truth this week when he told The Examiner: "It's really hard to say at this point who is ducking whom."

It has howled over the sport, lending decrescendo to whatever actually does happen. Or as Pacquiao trainer and candour practitioner Freddie Roach told ESPN on Tuesday: "We need to challenge Manny to get him motivated.

"He doesn't get motivated for ordinary guys, and Mayweather isn't an ordinary guy."

Arum would want late May in a larger Las Vegas venue.

Mayweather would want May 5 and appears contracted thusly.

Roach quips to ESPN that Mayweather suddenly feels eager now that a judge supplied the delay of his 90-day jail sentence.

Mayweather tweets we're basically waiting only for Arum.

Confusion does have its promotional merits, keeping things sustained in public discussion, but at some point the speculation gland wears out and you just can't latch on to the fight itself until it's real.

From there, we go to the usual questions of venue, which leads to a nagging thought that if a big boxing match has not happened to date in the UAE with all its sporting boldness - Formula One, golf, tennis, football - there might be a reason or two.

This match, of course, probably could obliterate a precedent or two. Its snowball has such girth that the ravenous observers pretty much shrug at a despicable crime that has brought a jail sentence into its considerations.

It's fair to wonder when people might get exhausted with it, even if the guess here is never, and surely never enough to sleep through any momentous 7am.


Also see our coverage of Chuck Culpepper's time with Manny Pacquiao

In Mannyland: inside Manny's training camp

Manny is a man unchanged by fame and fortune

He's the best, but Manny is still learning to be better

Team Pacquiao: Meet the crew priming Manny for Mosley

Manny Pacquiao: A real creature of comfort

From Baguio to Las Vegas: Follow the Manny Pacquiao trail