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Pacquiao’s still got it

By New York Times

LAST UPDATED: 2:42 a.m. HST, Nov 25, 2013

MACAU » It was Sunday afternoon, maybe two hours after a resounding triumph for Manny Pacquiao, and to Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing, the landscape brimmed again with possibility, and even more so than usual.

Even the impossible -- a date for Pacquiao with Floyd Mayweather Jr. -- seemed a little less so.

That said a lot about how Pacquiao performed against Brandon Rios, and a lot about how Arum believed his megafight foray into Chinese territory went. (Macau, like Hong Kong, is a largely autonomous region of China with separate legal and economic systems.) Arum said it cost more than $30 million to put on this pay-per-view event, but he was not worried about breaking even, regardless of the expected drop in viewership.

The arena was nearly three-quarters full at 9 a.m. Sunday, and by the time Pacquiao and Rios tangled, the place was sold out and the fans were loud and vociferous in their support of Pacquiao. Arum described the week in typically understated terms: "A great, big, artistic success."

"It's almost like making a major motion picture, except we open and close, unfortunately, the same night," he said.

Pacquiao barely made it back to his locker room as a crush of fans descended. One fan managed to hug the champion, only to end up with broken glasses and a swift trip out the side door. Pacquiao inched forward, one step at a time, and the mob inched with him. They moved as one.

Because Mayweather remains undefeated, and because Pacquiao looked like the old Pacquiao, more or less, in this Rios fight, the prospect of a bout against Mayweather resurfaced. Roach noted more than once: "That's the fight the world wants to see. 

That is true, even if the chances of that happening fall between zero and a number really close to zero. Regardless, it is good for the sport when that matchup is discussed as a possibility, even when it is not. It drives interest from the casual sports fan that opponents like Rios cannot draw, that boxers other than those two cannot draw -- the allure of the impossible, more or less.

"That fight should happen," Arum said of Mayweather-Pacquiao. "Particularly after that performance."

He did not directly respond when asked to estimate the chances of it happening, which is like asking him to estimate the chance of a lunar eclipse. 

"If everybody wants it to happen, it can happen," he said (although that "everybody" would include Arum himself).

"I mean, there's no impediment," he said (although there are several, most prominently the current Cold War between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions).

"It's been done before," he said (and he meant those generational-type fights, not the best fight that can be made of this generation).


Greg Bishop, New York Times News Service

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