By Ivan G. Goldman
May 2 is the prize. The victor gets to put a PPV card in place for that Cinco de Mayo weekend. But which network? Which venue? Which fight? There will be many more losers than winners. Lots of also rans.
Meanwhile, swarms of secret communications circulate among key players, everyone trying to slam rivals across the knees. Will it be Canelo-Alvarez-versus-Miguel Cotto on HBO? The elusive Big Kahuna bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao on Showtime? Don’t forget about Mayweather-Cotto II, another possibility.
Occasional tweets by principals spice up negotiations. Incidentally, time and circumstances work against Mayweather-Pacquiao on May 2. More on that later.
But just what makes that date so sacred? Nothing, really. It’s a barely observed weekend in Mexico to observe the Mexican army’s defeat of French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. An important war, sure, but a relatively insignificant battle within that war.
The date is far more relevant in the U.S., where it rivals St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve as a sacred night to get hammered regardless of one’s ethnic background.
Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that was practically invented by the U.S. beverage and restaurant industries, much like Secretary’s Day was created by florists. Incidentally, the latter holiday is now observed as Administrative Professionals Day. There are no more secretaries. They disappeared along with Joe Camel and Spuds MacKenzie.
Jockeying for the May 2 date are Al Haymon, the secretive manager/advisor to Mayweather; Oscar De La Hoya, who promotes Canelo and usually promotes Mayweather on a case by case basis, and Bob Arum, who promotes both Cotto and Pacquiao. It presumably includes all the Showtime and HBO honchos along with the hands-on chief executive of CBS Les Moonves. Showtime is one of CBS’s holdings.
Arum has already come down in favor of Alvarez-Cotto, and since his participation would be needed to put together Mayweather-Pacquiao, it would take something huge to make him change his mind. Miguel Cotto, for instance. Not that Cotto doesn’t want the fight. It’s just that he and Mayweather famously want every facet of every card they participate in to lean their way. At contract time they resemble ballerinas more than fighters. Ring walk, venue, cut of take, you name it, they demand preference.
Canelo, who’s releasing statements complaining about Cotto’s hesitation, could cause lots of trouble here. If Cotto waits long enough, the date could be lost.
Pacquiao has never shown much inclination to toss ultimatums at Arum. He’s superstitious, and he’s done well with Arum so far.
Mexican star Canelo, at age 24, logically has more of a future than Cotto, 34, Pacquiao, 36, or Mayweather, who turns 38 next month. This figures very much in the thoughts of players behind the scenes. No matter how sweet and loving he might be toward Mayweather, in the back of his mind Haymon’s also trolling for tomorrow’s superstar.
You can bet HBO is delighted to have snagged Canelo away from Showtime for this fight and has no intention of watching him migrate back to Moonves. Oddly, hard-to-get Mayweather now seems to want Pacquiao as much as Pacquiao wants him, but you can’t dance if you can’t get a spot on the floor. It all comes down to who has the power.
Also involved in this tangle of personalities, talent, and will are the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, which looks forward to an even bigger and drunker swarm of fans for Cinco de Mayo, and the owner of the much larger Dallas Cowboys stadium, which is looked upon as a natural venue for the super-sized crowd that would be attracted to Pacquiao-Mayweather.
What’s best for boxing? The answer is always the same – great fights, fights so splendid that everyone hungers for a rematch. That possibility doubles the stakes and doubles the fun. However it shakes out, no matter who gets the treasured May 2 date, the better fight will be the ultimate winner even if it comes a month later.
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.
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