By Ivan G. Goldman
HBO Sports on Monday took the singular, possibly unprecedented step of releasing a statement on the negotiations to create a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather on May 2, and the statement wasn’t positive. It already started trying to absolve itself of blame.
What did it say? “We are not an impediment to this fight. We stand ready to go. The principals need to agree to terms and come to a deal.” That’s the message in its entirety.
The word “principals” is key here. HBO is trying to nix the rumor that the necessity of forging an agreement between it and rival network Showtime is a barrier to the bout getting made. HBO is telling us that the fault lies with one or both fighters, although it’s not naming names. It’s also saying that Showtime isn’t the problem either.
It was a most unusual statement, and it came from HBO Sports without any of its executives being named.
Floyd-friendly boxing sites have lately heaped blame on Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, for making statements during the negotiations. Such statements are in fact usually a bad idea. Once talks begin, it’s best to express yourself within those negotiations, not out in public. Some of Arum’s statements didn’t even jibe with each other.
Meanwhile, other sites have pointed fingers at the networks, yet they haven’t cited any sources. HBO promotes Pacquiao and Showtime promotes Mayweather, and apparently those contracts are solid. Either one network steps aside or the two of them do a joint broadcast, as they did back in 2002 for Mike Tyson versus Lennox Lewis.
If this PPV fight were going to be made, a perfect time to announce it would have been at the Super Bowl, which of course draws a huge worldwide audience. A quick shot of Floyd and Manny seated together with their thumbs pointed at the sky would have been all it takes and could probably have been arranged.
In my mind, when that didn’t happen, that was a bad sign, and the chances of the fight happening slipped precipitously.
Meanwhile, Floyd has been tweeting videos of himself relaxing at a tropical beach. What does he mean by them exactly? That’s difficult to say precisely, but like the HBO statement, the tweets can’t be interpreted as positive in terms of making this fight. They seem to imply that he’s not in need of a deal. That could be a negotiating ploy. Or it could signal that he’s already moved on – or was never moving at all.
On the other hand, it’s easy to connect to just about anywhere, and Floyd is obviously somewhere that’s accessible. A deal could be done electronically.
But yes, time is running out. It takes time to mount a big promotion. If nothing happens very soon, both sides will take big strides in another direction.
Within the last few days, we were told Pacquiao and Mayweather sat down in a hotel room together after running into each other at a Miami Heat home game, and that in that hotel room they made progress working toward some positive conclusion. Prior to the game, they’d never met.
But the HBO statement is the kind of finger-pointing that ensues after something just didn’t work out. The boxing public and general public have made it clear for years that they want to see this match between these two welterweights. It would be the biggest-money fight ever. If it falls apart again, the general disgust would be beyond measure.
At this point I’m not accusing anyone, just agreeing with the network statement that these “principals” should make this happen.
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.