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By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Sun, 09 Nov 2008

There are many serious questions that need to be asked ? and truthfully answered ? concerning the mess over the reported non-payment of a $30,000 outstanding obligation as sanction fee by Manny Pacquiao apparently for his rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez.

The other burning issue is the $100,000 assessment for his ?Dream Match? against Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas on December 6. But first things first.

If, as Pacquiao?s adviser Michael Koncz said they had paid $90,000 for the title fight against WBC champion David Diaz it is hard to comprehend how an earlier obligation was not settled. What is even harder to understand is the attempt to pass it off as a ?mistake? by some accountant in Top Rank promoter Bob Arum?s office.

Arum is probably the biggest promoter in the business dealing with millions and millions of dollars and to suggest that there?s an accountant in his employ who makes such elementary mistakes is to test our collective commonsense if not Arum?s.

The fundamental procedure is for a promoter to deduct the sanction fee from the boxers? purses and make the payment to the sanctioning body concerned. If there was non-payment or shortfall then Pacquiao should not be the one to be castigated by the WBC. It should be the promoter because that?s his job although the sanction fee is levied on the fighter.

WBC president Jose Sulaiman after an initial, certainly untimely and emotional outburst against Pacquiao, quickly moderated his tone when we called him at his hotel suite in Chengdu , China . Regrettably however, the damage had already been done to our national treasure as well as the image of the Philippines and to undo the wrong will take some doing.

Sulaiman may have struck the right chord when he castigated people around Pacquiao for their poor representation of his interests and the presumption that some people were fooling him. We?ve heard that many times before but this time it was clear that the WBC was holding Pacquiao?s adviser Michael Koncz responsible.

Sulaiman claimed that Koncz had written to the WBC, presumably on Pacquiao?s behalf, claiming he would have to check with promoter Arum on the $30,000 outstanding amount while at the same time offering to pay a $20,000 sanction fee for the De La Hoya fight.

Under a highly questionable rule that needs to be revisited immediately, Pacquiao was being slapped a 1 ? percent sanction fee on his purse which promoter Don King claimed was $20 million as though he was the promoter and knew the facts. It took Eric Gomez, vice president of Golden Boy Promotions to correct the gross exaggeration of King by saying Pacquiao wouldn?t earn even half that amount. It seems that the WBC arrived at a $100,000 figure with no basis in fact which makes no sense at all. The sanction fee must be based on the fighter?s purse indicated in the contract signed and filed, in this case with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. It cannot ? and must not be based on some figure pulled out of King?s hair or his hat!

If there is indeed a rule, then the rule must be followed. Period. Leaving avenues open to negotiation which was in effect started by Koncz with his $20,000 offer provides an opportunity for possible corruption and wheeling and dealing. The other question is, did Pacquiao authorize Koncz to negotiate with the WBC and did Manny indicate the amount to be offered? Its only Manny who can clear up the controversy.

Of course the question begging to be answered is how in heaven?s name can the WBC impose a sanction when it had, from the very beginning, condemned the fight as a horrible mismatch, a circus and obscene and one that would fool the fans and was designed to help the fighters make money? To refuse to sanction the fight and to in fact condemn it in the harshest terms and to then turn around and demand a sanction fee is indefensible because the WBC made it patently clear it was not sanctioning the fight! How can you demand a ridiculous sanction fee of $100,000 for a fight you don?t sanction? Where is the logic?

Don King allegedly branded the offer to pay $20,000 a crime. To us who watched the Solar Sports coverage of his Chengdu promotion, the ripping off of the Chinese fight fans as well as its government for staging a farcical fight card was a far bigger crime that eroded the integrity of the sport.

If the fights were a highlight of the WBC Convention then it reached a low point when Marco Antonio Barrera, after pulling his punches and slapping a patsy Sammy Ventura around, decided to calm the Chinese fans who were obviously unhappy and ended Ventura ?s misery. Ventura had lost 7 of his previous 10 bouts by knockout inside four rounds and even Don King?s longtime friend, respected boxing commentator Col. Bob Sheridan said it was a sparring session.

We suspect the game-plan of King who started the trouble in the WBC Convention regarding Pacquiao and the sanction fees, is to get the WBC to strip Pacquiao of his title and then have the organization approve a fight for the vacant lightweight title involving Barrera. Col. Sheridan stated Barrera was aiming for a fourth world title and as we know, King signed up Barrera not too long ago.

Perhaps they thought Filipinos were too dumb to figure this one out. They are indeed terribly mistaken and must pay the price for damaging the reputation of the world?s No.1 pound-for-pound fighter who has done so much to keep boxing alive and our country which, for all the transgressions of some, is a country steeped in character, decency and integrity and love boxing with unbridled passion.

The WBC committed a grave injustice to one of the most exciting and popular fighters in the world today and the timing couldn?t have been worse?right in the midst of Pacquiao?s preparation for the fight of his life. Somebody must pay for this crime.

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