Pacquiao vs Bradley faces a full sports plateBy Percy D. Della
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SACRAMENTO—Manny Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight title match with Timothy Bradley is not the main dish on America’s full sports menu this weekend.
The last leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, the NHL’s Stanley Cup finals, a sumptuous meal of Major League Baseball matchups, the final tuneup to the US Open golf, and a Game 7 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals, are conspiring to make Pacquiao vs Bradley a difficult sell.
The bout at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas Saturday night (Sunday morning in the Philippines) is in tough company.
Hence, HBO Sports and the bout’s promoter, Bob Arum, are going full throttle convincing hardcore and borderline cable subscribers with a slew of sports choices this weekend to shell out $54.95 for pay-per-view bout and not grapple with buyer’s remorse afterwards.
The busy sports calendar includes the fifth game of the NHL’s Stanley Cup on the NBC network. The New Jersey Devils beat the Los Angeles Kings, 3-1, the other night to avoid a sweep and bring the championship back to their home ice Saturday night.
Five regional MLB games are on Fox, including the Subway Series pitting New York’s Yankees and Mets in the Bronx on Friday night and on Saturday evening, when Pacquiao faces the hungry Bradley, unbeaten in 29 pro fights but marked as a knockout target by Manny’s confident handlers.
The Mets have titillated the baseball world after ending their 50-year no-hitter hex last Friday, courtesy of two-time Cy Young award winner Johan Santana, who blanked the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-0.
For the price of their regular cable subscription, sports buffs can watch the seventh and last game between the Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics on ESPN. The Heat won in Boston Thursday and arranged a final game in South Beach Saturday night.
Oklahoma City’s young guns have already advanced to the NBA Finals after booming back from 18 points down to roll past San Antonio’s old roughnecks, 107-99, tonight.
With Tiger Woods winning in dramatic fashion at the Memorial tournament last week, the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis on CBS starting Thursday will keep boxing off the minds of fairway fanatics.
The Classic serves as the final tuneup for the US Open at the Olympic Golf Club in San Francisco. Tiger, who matched Jack Nicklaus’ record of 73 tour wins at the Memorial, will be among the most watched and scrutinized golfers two weeks from now.
But what could be the bellwether for Pacquiao vs Bradley is the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes, also in New York on Saturday.
Hope is mile-high among fans that I’ll Have Another, winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness would capture the final leg of the Triple Crown this year and do what a number of horses before him have failed to do since Affirmed’s successful bid in 1978.
I’ll Have Another, bought by its owners for a song ($35,000), appears to be in good health. His jockey, Mario Gutierrez, who rode in obscurity until the Derby and the Preakness, has handled his time on the big stage with humility and grace.
For a three-year-old chestnut colt with a late, finishing kick, the Belmont is Gutierrez’s mount to lose.
Citizens of “Bayang Karerista” are usually the first to buy a Pacquiao fight ahead of time.
But I can tell you first-hand that local Pinoy railbirds have switched priorities this weekend—the Belmont first, a hoped for Miami-Celtics final game second, and Pacquiao vs Bradley third.
I guess the group’s PPV buys, if at all, ride on its fortune in the Belmont.
More from this Column:
- Sportsmen in politics
- NSAs catch election fever
- ‘My bottom dollar for a horse’
- PH a world golf stop amid leadership turmoil
- Go, Popoy Juico and the Patafa presidency