By Ivan G. Goldman
The things Floyd Mayweather says are frequently at odds with the things he does, so predicting his moves based on his comments can be a foolish task. But a recent interview with “Fight Hype” makes it abundantly clear he won’t fight Manny Pacquiao next year or any other year, not even if pressured by boxing godfather Al Haymon, his manager/advisor.
It’s obvious that Pacquiao is very much on Floyd’s mind. He, not the interviewer, raises the issue: “We all know the Pacquiao fight, at this particular time, will never happen. And the reason the fight won’t happen is because I will never do business with Bob Arum again in life.”
He goes on to say, still not asked about the subject, “I will give you two reasons the Pacquiao fight is not going to happen.” First he repeats his pledge never to do business with Arum, and then he adds, “And I want to see Manny Pacquiao’s real pay-per-view numbers.” Get the numbers, he says, “from his last fight and compare them with my pay-per-view numbers with Canelo Alvarez.”
This declaration is ridiculous, misleading, and downright false. It also insults the intelligence of fans. You don’t tell a fighter to quit his promoter and then maybe you’ll fight him. That’s like saying, “I may fight you if you lick the soles of my shoes. On camera. Naked.” What he’s really saying is “I won’t fight you.”
Why all this outrage with Arum? Mayweather doesn’t claim Arum stole any money from him because if he did he’d be sued and lose plenty. I don’t like everything Arum does, but I know of no instance when he’s been sued by anyone claiming Arum shorted-changed him on the money. Doesn’t happen. He honors his contracts. So what’s the problem? We’re supposed to believe that because you don’t like just one guy in a fighter’s considerably large entourage that you refuse to fight him and pick up $95 million or more?
Sugar Ray Leonard never said anything like that. Nor did Tommy Hearns or Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez. You could go on and on naming great champions. We’re barely aware of who promoted their fights. That’s because they weren’t looking for excuses to duck anybody.
Now about those pay-per-view numbers. Apparently in the two fights Mayweather named, Floyd came in around 2.2 million buys and Pacquiao a bit less than 500,000. Quite a difference. Part of the reason is that Pacquiao’s fight was in China, making U.S. marketing a nightmare.
But let’s pretend the comparison is completely apt. Let’s go farther. Let’s also pretend Floyd’s numbers are three times better. Then ask yourself what were the pay-per-view numbers of Canelo Alvarez or Robert Guerrero before Mayweather fought them. Answer: There weren’t any. The fighters weren’t at the pay-per-view level. So Floyd’s excuse is just that – an excuse, not a reason. In fact, there’s nothing reasonable in those remarks. Does Mayweather honestly believe he can make more money fighting Marcos Maidana than Pacquiao? Of course not. So why dies he bring up the PPV numbers at all? Could it be because he needs a smokescreen?
It’s not Haymon who’s preventing the welterweight fight that the whole world wants to see. Or Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer or Oscar De La Hoya, or Manny Pacquiao, Arum, HBO’s Ken Hershman, Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza or anyone else other than Floyd Mayweather himself.
Mayweather’s position is reminiscent of heavyweight “champions” back in Jack Johnson’s time who wouldn’t let a black man fight for their title. That wasn’t really about race. It was about their fear of Johnson.
Floyd’s latest utterances are proof that it’s never been about PEDs or the money split or the timing. The truth is that the man who calls himself “Money” and the best of all time isn’t so interested in making the most money when he doesn’t like the risks, and he sees Pacquiao’s combination of speed, power, and ability too great a risk to his health and undefeated record.
Good luck with your legacy, Mayweather. But I promise you it won’t be what you hoped for. Thanks to you, the name Pacquiao will forever be entwined with yours. And not in a way that’s flattering to you.
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE