By Sam Cooper
What do you call the unnecessary, unwanted, pointless comeback of a true ring legend and first ballot Hall of Famer? In the case of Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming November 5 return against Jessie Vargas, that word would be “sadness.”
Honestly, Pacquiao deserves much better than a comeback like the one awaiting him. It’s legitimately depressing to visualize a guy who has meant so much to so many fans playing to almost zero interest in a bout that nobody (outside of his own team and Vargas’ team) cares about.
Team Pacquiao can’t even find a broadcast home for the event. Long time television host HBO passed on Pacquiao-Vargas and it appears that no other media outlet is rushing to produce the event.
Perhaps the only thing sadder than being dumped by HBO is the reason why Pacquiao is coming back in the first place.
The eight-division world champ and 20-year veteran has pretty much admitted that he’s returning because he needs the money.
“Boxing is my main source of income. I can’t rely on my salary as a public official,” Pacquiao told CNN Philippines a couple of weeks back.“I’m helping the family of my wife and my own family, as well. Many people also come to me to ask for help, and I just couldn’t ignore them.”
This, from a man who reportedly received upwards of $150 million for his bout with Floyd Mayweather last year and around $15-20 million for April’s match against Timothy Bradley. All told, Pacquiao has generated over a half billion dollars over the course of his career and to think that he’s returning because he needs a payday is absurd—unless, of course, what’s reported is not true when it comes to his earnings.
During a recent video interview, former strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza flat-out said that he saw Pacquiao’s check for the Mayweather fight and it was only one-tenth of what was reported to be his take for the show.
Whether you believe Ariza or not is another thing, but what cannot be denied is that Pacquiao’s comeback screams of someone returning for a paycheck and no other reason. It’s not as though there’s some pressing need for Manny to defeat a fringe champion like Vargas and nobody on Team Pacquiao appears to be all that concerned with unfinished boxing business.
So, yeah, this is too sad. It’s also typical of where fighters often end up when nobody is really looking out for their best interest. Even a legend and all-time great is not immune from these sad endings.