By Ivan G. Goldman
There will be no parade tomorrow. Also the U.S. won’t declare war on zombies this month. And oh yeah, Floyd Mayweather won’t get in the ring with Manny Pacquiao in the year 2014.
Mayweather popped his head up this week to make sure everyone understood that last part. No, he repeated, he won’t fight the man if Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions is involved, and Pacquiao’s contract with Arum runs through the end of this year. Isn’t that convenient? Mayweather may have to find another excuse for 2015, but he’s got plenty of time to look. The year is young.
The writer of the Internet piece in which Floyd repeated his no-no mantra claims he talks with him three or four times a week, which I found astounding. Not that I disbelieve him. It’s just that writers’ access to Floyd normally ranges from severely limited to zilch. The media outlet, Fighthype.com, is apparently attached to Mayweather’s leg like a suckfish. It’s not clear how that happened, but I congratulate Fighthype for its triumph.
The way to a superstar is usually through the star’s publicist. In Floyd’s case that would be Kelly Swanson, who runs her own public relations outfit and apparently spends much of her time providing no media access to Mayweather. That’s not unusual. When they’re on the way up, stars will run over their grandmothers with a steamroller in order to get interviewed. When they reach the top they’re suddenly obsessed with privacy and grant access only to the favored few.
In Floyd’s case access goes to reporters for gossip outlets like TMZ and, for some reason, Fighthype. When you’re granted access you’re instructed to wait for a call or to call a certain number at a certain time that will probably belong to someone in the star’s entourage. The star’s personal phone numbers are protected like nuclear launch codes.
Meanwhile, these business barricades in the world of boxing are relatively new, but once erected it’s just about impossible to take them down. Fighters under contract to Showtime or HBO remind me of a line in “Fiddler on the Roof” when Tevye says, “sure a bird may love a fish, but where would they build a home together?” Gennady Golovkin versus Kid Chocolate Quillin is a great middleweight match, but who sets up the cameras?
The Mayweather-Pacquiao impediment, however, is one-sided. Top Rank has basically already declared its willingness to submit to Showtime to get the fight in September. Its lawyers know what’s in Pacquiao’s deal with HBO and it sees no obstacle there.
Only in boxing do such problems arise. Football team owners, notorious spoiled children, still manage to play together. You never hear the Washington redskins say they won’t play the Bears because there’s a guy in the front office who rubs the Skins’ owner the wrong way.
The language Floyd uses when he discusses Arum is uncharacteristically careful. He’s already experienced the sting of what can happen when you make up crap about the wrong people. That’s when he had to pay a large settlement to Pacquiao after alleging Manny was on PEDs. The amount was kept secret as part of the deal. Floyd also had to issue an apology and claim he never meant to say what he very clearly did mean to say, at least until he was ordered to answer questions about it under oath (he never showed).
Floyd also used Arum as an excuse when he turned down $8 million to fight Antonio Margarito, which would have been a career high sum at the time. Instead he fought slow-as-molasses, battle-worn Carlos Baldomir for the same price, winning an easy decision and never trying to finish the tough Argentine. I was there. Floyd retired at the post-fight press conference, claiming he’d done everything there was to do in this sport. That was in 2006. He beat Oscar De La Hoya six months later in a snoozer that was hugely successful on a financial level.
There are, incidentally, ways Mayweather could do business with Arum, if that’s what really troubles him about a Pacquiao match. It requires some creativity, however. The two sides could appoint a financial referee to handle payments, much like what’s done in a real estate escrow or binding arbitration.
Mayweather, who looks more unbeatable all the time, will be 37 in less than a month, and it’s unlikely we’ll have to hear his excuses much longer. If he keeps competing someone else will beat him. That’s science. Meanwhile the match that never happens becomes less meaningful every day. Its money potential still hovers high in the stratosphere, but “Money” Mayweather clearly has no urge to reach up and pull it down.
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.
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