By Ivan G. Goldman
The long-awaited welterweight superfight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao may finally emerge from the closed-door negotiations that are clearly being conducted as we speak. If Floyd’s reading skills were better, the fight might have happened long ago.
Mayweather has basically conceded that the nasty literacy-related accusations from rapper 50 Cent, his former friend, had some degree of truth. I don’t say this to belittle the champ. Forms and degrees of illiteracy are no joke. When they occur among Americans they demonstrate that our country has failed some of its citizens.
“Reading will not define my place in boxing history,” Floyd told a New York radio station. As another answer he posted online two checks from Golden Boy to Mayweather Promotions that totaled more than $72 million.
If Mayweather were more in touch with the products of the swirl of media around him, he’d have a better understanding of his image around the boxing world and how much respect he lost by stepping back from the Pacquiao match-up. For years he’s been surrounded by an entourage that to a great extent interprets the world for him in a bizarre fashion that he finds more pleasing.
Of course Mayweather also sees bits of media himself, but given his limitations, what he sees is skewed and not the same as what others see.
Floyd has proved over and over that he has a somewhat unhealthy passion for fantastic wealth and the luxuries it will buy, posing repeatedly with piles of cash. Yet at the same time he’s been choosing fights that pay far less than he’d earn against the Philippines congressman. His explanations made sense to the people paid to be around him, to his hard-core fans, and to the uninformed, but not to anyone else.
All this transpired as the mass media endured a transformation that to a great extent has greatly diminished the number of decently paid journalists. They’ve often been replaced by various degrees of ignorant hobbyists who provide Mayweather with an even less reliable gauge of public attitudes.
We know some kind of negotiations are taking place because of the veil of silence that surrounds them. There’s a big black hole where the date May 2 ought to be on the calendars of Las Vegas casinos, TV programming, and prizefighting events. That’s the closest Saturday to May 5, or Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates a rather insignificant battle in Mexico that rakes in big profits for U.S. beverage, bar, and related industries. Among those related industries are prizefighting and pay-per-view TV.
Competing in the top bout on Cinco de Mayo has, over the years, come to be seen as an invisible boxing crown. This year will be no exception. So naturally all heads turn toward Mayweather and Pacquiao, and they and their principals are not saying much. It takes months to prepare for that particular Saturday night card, so we know the announcement has a time stamp.
This superfight that’s never happened has left an immense pile of cash that might or might not be picked up. Some would argue it’s already too late. Mayweather would be 38 and Pacquiao 36. Compare that to the first time Sugar Ray Leonard fought Thomas Hearns. That was on Sept. 16, 1981 and also a much-sought welterweight match-up. Sugar Ray was 24. Hearns was 22. No dilly-dallying there.
Location, money, network participation, money, and more money all must be sorted out before contracts are signed. And if the Big One is not put together, that leaves the door open for others to jump in, but it won’t remain open long.
50 Cent’s barrage of accusations regarding Floyd’s reading abilities came while the champ prepared for last September’s rematch with Marcos Maidana.
“Making fun of a person because they can’t read is not funny,” Floyd said. “It’s tragic. If I really couldn’t read, it would make my accomplishments even that much more amazing.” A great answer.
The accusations brought to mind physical trainer Alex Ariza, who repeatedly mimicked Freddie Roach’s Parkinson’s-affected speech. Such a campaign is ugly, and unbeknownst to the speaker, strips away all pretense from the hideous core of his soul.
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.