By Ivan G. Goldman
Although many of us lost hope of ever seeing a Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao superfight, promoter Bob Arum recently told Reuters he believes the contest will probably take place sometime before the end of 2016.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, expects all the stars to move into place by then. He figures Mayweather, 46-0 (26 KOs), will go into the fight at 49-0, hoping to make Pacquiao victim Number 50. Of course Pacquiao would have other ideas on the eventual outcome.
Arum told Reuters reporter Mark Lamport-Stokes in a telephone interview: “He (Mayweather) would figure, ‘Why don’t I do those (three) fights for the easy money and then in 2016, with my 50th fight, I could beat the (49-0) record of (Rocky) Marciano by fighting Pacquiao’,” said Arum. “That would be a huge fight, and I believe it will happen.”
The three more fights Arum referred to would be those remaining on his six-fight deal with Showtime TV, a contract that Arum referred to as an “unbelievable deal” for Mayweather. As it stands now, Floyd versus Manny would be the biggest-money prizefight ever fought. Many of us considered it lost forever after Pacquiao extended his contract with Arum’s Top Rank Promotions through 2016. Mayweather says he will never again work with Arum, who was once his own promoter.
“The idea that Mayweather says, ‘Well, I’m not going to fight Pacquiao because Bob Arum is involved,’ is the latest is in a whole line of excuses,” Arum told Reuters.
The debate over who would win and who’s to blame that this great welterweight match was never made rages on among boxing fans. In fact, it’s a tired, often upsetting topic. The bout was very close to a done deal back in 2010, but after everything else was agreed to, Mayweather suddenly demanded surprise blood tests for both fighters in order to prevent the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). At the time, such rigorous testing was unheard of in pro boxing. Pacquiao said Mayweather was making new demands to gain a psychological edge, and the deal fell apart.
Pacquiao filed a defamation suit against Mayweather, who’d made a series of PEDs accusations. Floyd never showed up for court-ordered depositions and settled out of court, paying a sum that’s remained secret but believed to be in the millions. Mayweather also had to apologize and issue a statement that said he never meant or said what he in fact said.
At another point Mayweather said he’d pay Pacquiao $40 million to fight him, but insiders never took it as a serious offer. It would have made Pacquiao an employee of Mayweather and cut him out of pay-per-view revenues. So the debate has raged on with each side blaming the other.
Since the 2010 negotiations, rigorous blood-testing has sometimes been conducted before big fights and Pacquiao removed his objections. Mayweather reacted curiously to the sixth-round kayo Juan Manuel Marquez scored over Pacquiao in their fourth contest on Dec. 8, 2012. Usually fighters are disappointed when the prospect of a big purse is whisked away because a potential opponent was defeated, but Floyd was jubilant and showed it with his tweets.
Pacquiao,56-5-2 (38 KOs), a busy, aggressive fighter, battled his way back into contention, looking like his old self in his last two outings as he decisioned Brandon Rios and Timothy Bradley. Meanwhile, defensive wizard Mayweather has kept winning, although in his last contest against Marcos Maidana he showed, as he has in his last few fights, fewer displays of brilliant footwork and more retreats back to the ropes.
In December 2016 Pacquiao will turn 38, Mayweather will be close to 40, and a lot could happen between now and then to torpedo the hopes of Arum, who will turn 85 that month. His remarks to Reuters may have stemmed more from wishful thinking than rock-solid expectations. Also, he didn’t say which network would get to show the blockbuster fight, should it happen. At this point Mayweather is tied to Showtime and Pacquiao to HBO, although we don’t know how iron-clad the Pacquiao-HBO agreement is.
It’s hard to know just how badly it will tarnish Mayweather’s legacy if he never takes a Pacquiao fight. Perhaps some boxing historian can come up with a similar situation, but champions are expected to fight the most worthy opponents within their weight divisions.
The late Joe Frazier, for example, knew what a great fighter Muhammad Ali was, but he fought him three times, landing in the hospital twice. Had he avoided him for his entire career his name wouldn’t carry the awe and respect that it does today.
` Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in 2013 by Potomac Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. It can be purchased here.