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larry-merchant-face-530x332It looks like a fair number of you were hoping to see Mike Alvarado get the nod against Manny Pacquiao for Pacman's November date in Macau. Many fans think Alvarado's boxing skills give him a better chance to better the 34-year-old Pacquiao and suspect Rios, a straight ahead rumbler who often neglects defense, is tailor made to help Pacman stop his losing streak.

I checked in with former HBO analyst Larry Merchant, who has kept busy doing work for Top Rank following his exit after 35 years at HBO, to discuss what is forthcoming for Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, and the other fighters clustered at 147 pounds.

“Instead of a fifth fight between Pacquiao and Marquez, there are two pretty good ones instead,” he said. “In regards to Rios versus Alvarado for Pacquiao, it is a question of style, they want someone to come straight forward, give him chance to have a spectacular showing.”

Does Merchant think fans are disappointed, that Alvarado–who by the way was medically disqualified from a November fight, as a hurt tendon in his hand might not be healed– would be a better style matchup for Manny? “I think Alvarado poses a more complex problem to solve,” he said. “He would try to box but that doesn't mean he'd really be tougher to deal with than Rios, Rios is young and impossible to discourage, a guy who just keeps coming. That's the style that either gets knocked out or surprises everybody by beating the old guy.

Merchant is happy with the Pacquiao-Rios pairing, as well as the Marquez-Tim Bradley fracas, slated for Sept. 14 in Las Vegas. “I look forward to both fights, two fights is not a bad thing. I would bet one would turn out to be terrific, the other could be explosive. There is mixing and matching possible in that division and that promoter and those four guys promises over the next year or two years that we see some damn good fights. It will sort itself out is my philosophy. Yeah, I'm interested in the narrative of Pacquiao and Marquez because it was more than just a one punch fight.”

Merchant is also interested, as we all should be, to see how the Pacquiao-Bradley fight does in Macau. What if Top Rank can build a base there, and starts moving more and more bouts there? I'm guessing that because Manny is Filipino Macau emerged as the best location, but what if that venue makes overwhelming bids for more and more Top Rank fights, not just Manny fights? That's fine if you're taking in the bout on TV, but what if you're a person who likes to attend big fights in Vegas or Cali or NY? What about the press? How many media do you think will be able to convince their overlords to pony up for transport and lodging in Macau? And is tax avoidance a palatable reason for booking a fight in a certain location over another? Sure, for the person(s) avoiding the bite from the taxman, but is it “fair” to the system, to the masses? The answer might depend on your politics, on how you see the world. If you think it's OK for corporations to park their cash in tax havens, declare that profits are being made out of the US, so they aren't subject to taxation, then you're probably fine with this practice. But if you think there is something stinky, sneaky and greedy about, for example, Apple parking two thirds of its cash stash, approximately $102 billion, overseas, out of reach of Uncle Sam, while they enjoy the business-friendly infrastructure our system of laissez faire governance allows them, then maybe you aren't so psyched to see tax avoidance become a deal-shaper in the boxing realm.

Thoughts, TSS Universe?

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