Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, certainly one of the most astute men in the business of boxing, knows how to promote a fight. But when his prized fighter Manny Pacquiao got unnecessarily if not unfairly embroiled in a controversy over his stand on same sex marriages following a grievous error by an Internet writer named Granville Ampong, Arum had to use his connections built up through the years and his experience to douse the fire.
It certainly wasn't easy even for a Harvard-educated lawyer who worked in the office of the Attorney General during the Camelot era of Pres. John F. Kennedy. The sad thing is that Ampong, a Filipino-American, cloaked his personal biases against gays and possibly US President Barack Obama who came out in support of gay marriages by quoting a passage from the Book of Leviticus which effectively said gays should be killed and enmeshed it with Pacquiao's stand based on the Bible against same sex marriages.
It wasn't really Pacquiao's fault that he incurred the ire of the gay community and received unending flak from a select bunch of American journalists who pounced on the opportunity to try and dim some of the international glow that radiates around Pacquiao.
But it does send him and the so-called public relations and media men who surround him along with a bunch of advisers a message that people like Ampong should not have easy access to Pacquiao even under his magnanimous nature further enhanced by his strengthened Christian faith.
Pacquiao should be advised that it isn't always prudent to discuss such issues as same sex marriage without an opportunity to expound on his beliefs and why they are so under the laws of God which he obviously subscribes to. It would also seem inappropriate to take issue on such a topic with the President of the United States especially when Barack Obama addressed the issue of gay marriages within the context of American society.
Indeed, the questions of Ampong were self-serving and Pacquiao, trusting soul that he is, effectively fell into a trap. We trust he has learned his lesson — and learned it well — from this unhappy episode.
Pacquiao has dutifully apologized and pointed out that he has relatives who are gays or lesbians and that he doesn't despise or dislike them at all. But that, unfortunately, is damage control that will still leave some holes in the denial dike. Even Ampong's own statement that Pacquiao never quoted Leviticus and its condemnation of same sex individuals lying next to each other as husband and wife or man and woman, failed to completely erase the blame heaped on Pacquiao.
What Arum and Pacquiao himself should be concerned about is the possible backlash on ticket sales and pay per view buys for his June 9 showdown with undefeated American Timothy "Desert Storm" Bradley. We guess this is the fence that Arum is trying to mend. The advantage is, he's got some time and Manny's honesty and humility plus faith to help seem him through.
Given the reported 1.5 million buys in what was an entertaining battle between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao needs to redeem himself from his last two somewhat disappointing performances against Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez.
His performance needs to be coupled with strong PPV numbers which, on the surface, would seem hard to get, with all due respect to Bradley.
The same sex marriage issue has made Pacquiao and by extension Bob Arum's task so much more difficult. But then the history of Manny's life has been one of overcoming overwhelming odds.