By Ivan G. Goldman
Manny Pacquiao casts just one vote out of 250 in the lower house of the Philippines Congress. To get things done he’s had to study his colleagues and try to determine why they say the things they do and what it is they’re really after.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
After four years in Congress and at least seven years as a committed politician, he’s had an intense, sustained course in figuring people out, and he’s brought this expertise to the study of his nemesis Floyd Mayweather.
In a recent interview with respected columnist Jerry Izenberg in the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, Pacquiao concluded Floyd “certainly is not afraid,” but that he’s obsessed with keeping his record of zero losses and fears that Manny could erase the zero.
Mayweather, who faces Marcos Maidana Sept. 13 in Las Vegas, has said some terribly ugly things about Pacquiao, calling him names I won’t repeat. “I think I finally understand him,” Pacquiao told Izenberg. Sometimes, he said, when “people aren’t educated, they just talk to talk. He sets a very bad example.”
Pacquiao, who dropped out of school at 14 in order to earn his way in the world, later passed his high school equivalency exam and took college courses to help him perform as a legislator. Many Filipinos believe he may one day be president. But meanwhile he’s a welterweight who will watch Maidana’s rematch with Mayweather with great interest.
Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, is once again trying to talk up a Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown for next year and may even have found a breakthrough formula – two contests. Give the loser a rematch and Mayweather’s Showtime network and Pacquiao’s HBO could each be satisfied – along with prizefighting history.
Golden Boy, which promotes Floyd’s bouts, is no longer headed by Richard Schaefer, who refused to speak to Arum. The company’s president, Oscar De La Hoya, says he’s out to break up the logjam and has already begun to walk the walk. He paved the way for Showtime’s Bernard Hopkins to fight HBO’s Sergey Kovalev November 8 in Atlantic City. That’s a fan-friendly unification match – on HBO, which wouldn’t do business with Golden Boy under Schaefer.
As for Pacquiao, he’s making the rounds trying to help Arum build publicity for a tune-up Arum and HBO are selling on pay-per-view – Pacquiao versus junior welterweight Chris Algieri November 22 in Macau.
Pacquiao doesn’t pay that much attention to the zero on Mayweather’s record because as he said in the interview, “If you don’t defend against the best, none of that means anything.”
Pacquiao saw what was in Mayweather’s heart when he was so jubilant about Juan Manuel Marquez knocking out Pacquiao in their fourth contest in December 2012. Conventional wisdom presumed the devastating loss would kill demand for a Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown.
Fighters often attend the bouts of other fighters who are likely to be their opponents, and if big money is at stake the fighters in attendance root for the guy they expect to fight. But Mayweather was so exultant in his tweets and in videos on the Internet that it was embarrassing. This was a man who was relieved that he wouldn’t have to pick up what would have been the biggest purse in history.
By that point Mike Tyson, Roy Jones, Sugar Ray Leonard, and the late Bert Sugar were just four of the many experts who said Mayweather fears getting in the ring with Pacquiao. And then Pacquiao came back, looking like his brutally effective self against Brandon Rios and in the rematch with Timothy Bradley.
Fight historians say there’s never been such an obvious big fight that didn’t get made, but that’s not completely true. Champions such as Jack Dempsey got away with pretending deserving black fighters didn’t exist so they weren’t even listed as contenders.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao hasn’t confined his study of Mayweather to watching what he does and says outside the ring. He studies his fights even closer. “I know how to fight him,” Pacquiao said. “I know that I can make him stand and fight.”
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More Information Here