By Ivan G. Goldman
Usually when two sides negotiate they do it verbally. But Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather — the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world — do it with their fists. Each is keenly aware of every nuance sent and received and has been for years. Every punch they throw at an opponent has also been a message to the negotiator on the other side of the Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiating table. The next few weeks will see this long-distance parley reach a crescendo.
Photo: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Boxing
Mayweather’s recent tirade in which he once again accuses his nemesis of PEDs use is a part of that negotiation. It might mean that he won’t compete against Pac Man under any circumstances. It might also mean he’s already making excuses for a contest he suspects must eventually be fought. Or it could be just more Mayweather blather and carry no meaningful message beyond hostility.
But beginning this Saturday, when Mayweather takes on sturdy, tenacious Miguel Cotto, a new round of serious negotiations begin. The two rivals will compete only five weeks apart, which is almost like one of those events we see when two fighters go back to back on the same card, and the promoter tells us if all goes well they’ll fight each other next. Of course we have even less of a guarantee this time. History teaches us that every time a deal seemed ready to boil, Mayweather turned off the fire and began hurling more insults at Pacquiao. The latest broadside was a repeat of the process.
Assuming Floyd and Manny both win their next contests, how they do it is crucial. Floyd’s already as skittish as a colt in lion country, and if Pacquiao looks really superb against tough Timothy Bradley, Mayweather might demand a clause guaranteeing him that the entire contents of Pacquiao’s blood system be drained and scrutinized at a lab of Floyd’s choosing. Pacquiao has already agreed to strenuous testing, including blood testing the morning after any fight.
If Mayweather looks hugely impressive I don’t expect that would kill Pac Man’s interest. We’ve watched Manny settle more easily into luxurious surroundings over the years, but at heart he’s still a poor kid from the Philippines who loves providing for his family and giving away money. It’s difficult to imagine him walking away from 40 or 50 million dollars. He doesn’t scare easily. Besides, like the rest of us, he’s curious to see what would happen in a Mayweather-Pacquiao contest.
Mayweather shows less curiosity, which gives him a negotiating advantage. But he often runs short of money, which, as most of us know through experience, tends to weaken your negotiating position. Also, Pacquiao’s slander suit against Mayweather, which looks to be on even firmer ground now, also undercuts Floyd. You can bet he’d like to get out from under that legal ax, and some kind of accord on that could be thrown into a fight agreement. Incidentally, anyone who thinks Mayweather is a physical coward has got it wrong. He’s trying to earn the most money and boxing prestige he can get without sacrificing his undefeated status, which is a far different thing.
Let’s not forget the calendar. A Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown would be complicated by Floyd’s date with the Clark County Detention Center on June 1, when he begins serving a 90-day sentence for beating a woman again. None of that jail time will count as a rest break because he won’t be able to get the workouts or nutrition he’d want prior to a super fight. On the other hand, authorities have already signaled that his time served may be cut by several weeks for good behavior, and Floyd’s behavior is likely to be exemplary. High-profile prisoners like him are almost always kept separate from other inmates to avoid a run-in with some nut case who’d want to shank him just to get on TV. We can pretty safely assume that if quarrelsome Mayweather has virtually no one to quarrel with in the can he will be a model prisoner.
And while we’re thinking about calendars, let’s remember Floyd is 35, Manny is 33, and sometimes timing really is everything. If these negotiations drag on long enough, this super-fight could come too late to prove much of anything.
Finally, Cotto and Bradley aren’t easy pickings. If one of them has a really good night, we’re not just counting our chickens before they’re hatched — we’re counting the wrong chickens.
Ivan G. Goldman’s latest novel Isaac: A Modern Fable came out in April 2012 from Permanent Press. Information HERE