By Ivan Goldman
If Manny Pacquiao is such an inferior opponent, which is what Floyd Mayweather tells us, why doesn’t Floyd go out and pick up that easy $75 million? It’s still the biggest fight out there – offering him at least twice the money he’d make against Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Marcos Maidana and Adrien Broner. These are the opponents we’re supposed to hunger for. They’re all excellent. They’re just not the best possible opponents for Mayweather, the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
The fact is, when it comes to fighting Pacquiao, Mayweather is not off the hook. Just because he says it’s so, and just because boxing “analysts” nod their head in bewildered agreement and no longer distress by Floyd bringing it up, that doesn’t make it so. Facts say the opposite. The only reason those other opponents make any financial sense is because Mayweather’s team negotiated such an advantageous contract with Showtime, which was willing to give away the store in order to inflict harm on HBO, its blood enemy. Apparently he could make millions against Butterbean.
In 1973 George Foreman knocked out Joe Frazier in the second round. Frazier went down six times before he was counted out. It was a disaster for previously undefeated Smokin’ Joe. But it didn’t suddenly make him an unfit opponent for Muhammad Ali, who decisioned him the next year in Madison Square Garden. And a year after that came the Ali-Frazier Thrilla in Manila, probably the greatest heavyweight battle ever fought. It wouldn’t have happened if Ali tried to label Frazier as no longer worthy. Ali wasn’t that kind of guy. He wanted to beat the best.
The fact that Pacquiao was kayoed in the sixth round by Juan Manuel Marquez in their fourth go-around doesn’t erase Pacquiao’s entire career. He’s still a great fighter, strong, and quick enough so that he’s not always predictable. We know he’d be troublesome for Floyd because Team Mayweather doesn’t want him, and that may be the most knowledgeable team in the sport.
Sometimes guys get caught. It happens. It especially happens to aggressive fighters like Pacquiao who get so hungry in there that they sometimes forget to protect themselves. It can make them even more worth watching.
If Canelo Alvarez had knocked out Floyd, that wouldn’t mean Floyd was suddenly a big zero. You’d have to be crazy to say so. He’d still have stunning talent and 45 victories under his belt, many against great champions like Diego Corrales and Oscar De La Hoya. And maybe Canelo would get caught in the rematch. It happens. That’s boxing.
If you go back in fight history it’s difficult to find a big-money match that everyone knew should be made that never got made. Sugar Ray Robinson fought Jake LaMotta. Frazier fought Ali. De La Hoya fought Tito Trinidad, and Joe Louis fought Max Schmeling. The Celtics play the Lakers and the 49ers play Baltimore. It’s sport. That’s how it’s done. If Mayweather never faces Pacquiao it will stain the entire sport — and Floyd’s legacy.
The steroid issue is history. Both fighters have accepted surprise blood and urine testing before their fights supervised by respected agencies – not just state commissions. So what issues remain? Pacquiao must do well against Brandon Rios Nov. 23 in Macau to show he’s still the same Pacquiao. Showtime, HBO, Golden Boy and Top Rank Promotions need to grow up. If they can’t stop squabbling they can succumb to arbitration, signing on in advance to abide by the decisions that result from those proceedings. It’s been done before. If nations can take disputes to arbitration, and they have, so can Bob Arum, Richard Schaefer, Stephen Espinoza, and Ken Hershman.
Time is wasting.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in June 2013 by Potomac Books. It can be purchased here.