Monday, April 25, 2011

Making More of Pacquiao vs Mosley

Pacquiao vs Mosley - The fight has sold out. The pay-per-view will pull in tens of millions of dollars. Closed-circuit broadcasts and international airings will only add to that total.
The bout between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley is already a guaranteed commercial success weeks before it takes place. It was guaranteed to be a commercial success from the moment it was announced.
It could be so much more.
It won’t be, not when promoters have learned how to make a fight into an event, how to make an event profitable, how to stick to that formula and then to streamline that formula down until doing well is good enough.
Pacquiao alone can sell a fight. He needn’t be the lone selling point.
The fight has sold out largely on Pacquiao’s name, on his ability and accomplishments – and especially thanks to the bout’s location.
Las Vegas thrives on the big show. Casinos reserve the top tiers of tickets for their high rollers. Brokers scalp seats to those willing to dish out dollars. And then fans take flights and make road trips to Sin City, booking hotels and planning days of debauchery that will culminate in watching two people punch each other.
The fight should be one of the main selling points. At this point – for a bout involving an all-time great in Pacquiao and a future Hall of Fame inductee in Mosley – the aspects of the actual fight are barely being mentioned.
We are less than two weeks away, and the buzz is closer to inaudible than it is to being palpable.
Even the most major marketing mechanism is falling short.
In the past several years, Pacquiao fights have been broadcast by HBO Pay-Per-View. The premium cable channel has, in turn, used its multi-part “24/7” documentary series as an advertising vehicle for four of Pacquiao’s past five bouts.
Pacquiao-Mosley is a Showtime pay-per-view broadcast. That network turned to its “Fight Camp 360” documentary series to chronicle the weeks leading up to the bout.
The first episode, shown three weeks ago, lacked a compelling storyline. It introduced viewers to the personalities but failed to drive a must-see narrative as a hook for prospective pay-per-view buyers. It aired initially on CBS, hidden away at a weekend hour when viewing audiences are typically smaller.
Of those who were nevertheless sold on the prospect of watching subsequent “Fight Camp 360” episodes, the second installment, which clocked out at a surprisingly short 20 minutes, proved to be even more disappointing.
The fighters seem to spend less time on screen than their supporting cast of trainers and camp members. The bout seems less important than b-roll footage of scenery and asides detailing the various minutiae surrounding Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley.
They are one- to two-minute vignettes that don’t really fit into a structure. And while together they are a linear storytelling of the time leading up to the fight, they lack a clear storyline.
Manny Pacquiao is a stellar, smaller man seeking his 14th straight victory, and yet again he is in the ring with someone who is bigger and more powerful than him.
Shane Mosley is an aging former champion seeking redemption in the form of one more big win, an uphill battle when considering that his opponent is the best fighter in the sport today.
To tell that story would invite back the criticism of Pacquiao-Mosley that had come out when the fight was first signed, criticism that subsided – distracted by the fight’s move to Showtime and the possibility of cross-promotion on the network television airwaves of CBS.
Mosley is coming off a 2010 in which he had one round of glory against Floyd Mayweather Jr., only to be rendered ineffective in the balance of the bout en route to a one-sided decision loss. His next outing that year was a dreadful draw with Sergio Mora.
Pacquiao is coming off a 2010 in which he easily defeated Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito and sold tens of thousands of tickets in Cowboys Stadium, but he did not fight the one fight fans most want him to see, a mega-fight with Mayweather. And while Mosley is a future Hall of Fame inductee who carries more name value than some of the other fighters Pacquiao could have gone on to face instead, he is not an opponent who is stepping into the ring at the apex of his career.
Aside from Freddie Roach’s quick note of Mosley’s risk/reward ratio, this hasn’t been mentioned on “Fight Camp 360” – for obvious reasons. Doing so could undercut the selling points if viewers think that Mosley stands no chance against Pacquiao.
Or it could provide another reason to latch onto Mosley as a protagonist.
He’d been the underdog before, more than two years ago against Margarito, only to dominate and win by technical knockout.
How does his past play into the present? What do he and his team see in Pacquiao? What do Pacquiao and his team see in Mosley? What are the problems with facing yet another big man who can hurt Pacquiao the way he got hurt against Miguel Cotto and Margarito?
Granted, HBO’s “24/7” series became formulaic and sometimes seemed reliant on contrived situations. But it had structure and a narrator to drive the story.
“Fight Camp” has no narration, and it lacks good interviewing to bring out the best in its cast of characters. This approach worked for the “Fight Camp” episodes on Showtime’s “Super Six” tournament, bouts in which the storyline was embedded, episodes that served less to sell the fights and more to keep people talking about them in the months between bouts.
Where are the great quotes from Mosley’s trainer, Naazim Richardson, as he breaks down what’s going on in camp and what he sees going down on fight night? What does Freddie Roach have to say about what’s going on in Pacquiao’s camp? Are his usual distractions while training in the Philippines better or worse than usual? What does Roach think Pacquiao will get out of working with junior-welterweight beltholder Amir Khan?
Instead we see Pacquiao in snippets as he’s visiting with politicians, as he’s filmed for a comedy show, as he’s late for showing up to train, as he hits the pads with Roach, as he steps in the ring with Khan.
We see Mosley eating. We see Mosley driving. We see Mosley shooting pool. We see Mosley hit the speed bag.
There is no tension. There is no drama. There’s little in the way of action.
And there’s little context. It’s fly-on-the-wall stuff that’s interesting on its own, but it’s a fly on the wall that’s producing little buzz. Watch Pacquiao vs Mosley live stream on Showtime PPV.


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