The canary in Pacquiao’s aborted fight
I realize it now. A short e-mail message Aquiles Zonio sent me 11 days ago was probably the canary in the coal mine for Manny Pacquiao’s aborted bout in Dubai with Amir Khan of Great Britain.
Originally scheduled for April 23, the fight was reset to May 20—only to be put off indefinitely as of Wednesday.
I should have sensed a desert debacle in the making when Zonio, the fighting senator’s usually obliging publicist, was not forthcoming at that time.
“Sorry I could not yet give comments on his next fight. It’s still under negotiation,” Zonio told me tersely.
Clearly, here was a guy clamming up instead of already announcing pre-fight plans for his boss. These would have included the legislator’s training regimen away from his senate chores to prepare for a new challenger after he had suddenly dismissed Australian Jeff Horn.
As it turned out, Zonio was tightlipped while Pacman tried to do it alone without his promoter Bob Arum and take his act on the road to the United Arab Emirates.
Apparently, negotiators in Dubai dangled a heck more change than the $5 million Arum had arranged for the Horn bout and the $4 million Pacman got when he reclaimed the WBO welterweight crown from Jessie Vargas in Las Vegas last year.
Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s adviser dispatched to Dubai to seal a fight in the UAE, promptly reported that a bout not for peanuts, but for $38 million, had been arranged against Khan, an ideal choice of Pacquiao diehards.
Everything was kosher for Koncz, who thought he could be a snake oil salesman like Arum. But as the days passed, Arab sheiks who could turn the desert green with their money were presenting none on the table.
Apparently, negotiations had been snarled somewhere. And Arum, stabbed in the back by Pacquiao and Koncz for the Dubai fight, is back as a sweet uncle and promoter again.
Arum told the Los Angeles Times Tuesday the “outlandish sum … made no sense.” The Times said a Pacquiao-Khan bout could be revisited “with realistic numbers” in the fall.
“That deal is done for now. [Pacquiao and Koncz] were talking to the wrong people,” Arum said.
The Times reported that Arum has sent Pacquiao a new proposal for a fight in July versus an opponent he declined to identify.
Arum said a new bout will go ahead if Pacman accepts his proposal.
“If he doesn’t, there’s nothing we can do.”