Manny Pacquiao sat down with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap for a Sportscenter conversation that one would expect to be about his upcoming fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, this Saturday night on HBO. Of course, this is ESPN, and they have no capability of discussing anything involving Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather unless it's the usual recycled Floyd vs. Manny talk.
And that's what we got:
It started with asking Manny what it's like when he's already fought Marquez for 36 rounds, a good start:
This time I knew that he knows my style. In-and-out, in-and-out. This time I changed my style in more aggressiveness. It's kind of surprising for him.
Quickly we transition into a more comfortable home for moronic ESPN thoughts as Schaap asks Manny if he is able to fight well now that he has "found God" and we're quickly going off the rails:
All I can say is...if God is with you, who can be against you? God is the creator of everything. He can do all things. All things are possible with god.
Even a fight with Floyd Mayweather? ...somebody kill me:
All things are possible in god. [laughs]
Yes. I hope that fight will happen by next year.
I'm 100% willing to fight him. I already announced that...the rules, he can suggest any rules and regulation in boxing. My job is...it's his job if it's okay or not. It's up to him.
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is still "the fight," we all know that. But there is a major fight this Saturday night, the fourth fight in an insanely close rivalry. This is the rivalry for this era of boxing with two pound-for-pound greats who put on thrilling bouts.
And all "the worldwide leader in sports" can manage are questions about Manny's religion (which were played out before the Tim Bradley fight) and more Floyd vs. Manny talk?
Marquez is a guy who has a completely legitimate argument that he should be 3-0 against Pacquaio. Maybe spend more than 30 seconds of your 3:30 actually talking about the fight instead of looking forward to a bout that is no closer to happening now than it was two years ago, and a fight that could easily be derailed with a Marquez win.
But that's not how ESPN works. That's why Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith feel the need to continue to bring up Pacquiao/Mayweather and embarrass themselves with their "who is ducking who?" talk. Pretending that Pacquiao saying he'll do a 45-55 purse split has any meaning, like it's up to him to negotiate. And, of course, ignoring when his management and promoters shot the whole thing down anyway.
It's not about telling the story of the upcoming fight though, or discussing boxing in any meaningful way though. With ESPN it's always about the narrative. This will be another huge live gate and another huge PPV buyrate, but that doesn't fit the narrative for ESPN. To them, it's all about continuing the idea of "the only fight anyone wants to see" to the bitter end.