By Ivan G. Goldman
The way is clear for the Godfather of Boxing to make a match between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in the coming year, but if he marches down that road he may have to go to the mattresses on other deals he’d like to put together.
The Godfather is of course manager/advisor Al Haymon, the most powerful man in the fight game since Don King ruled so much of it a couple of decades ago. Haymon is now confronted by the same kinds of choices King used to face. That’s because when you represent many fighters it’s not always easy to balance all their interests. Sometimes you’re tempted to sacrifice the needs of one in order to advance those of another.
These conflicts are rarely considered by fighters eager to work with a boxing kingpin who can yank them up the ladder toward their goal, no waiting. At least that’s what they’re told while being sweet-talked by the kingpin.
Mayweather is of course Haymon’s biggest cash cow and very possibly worth any ten clients in his stable. But with his 37th birthday coming up in February, he isn’t the future. The future belongs to fighters like Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman, also on the Haymon roster. Sure, the world craves Mayweather-Pacquiao, but Haymon doesn’t want to jeopardize the kinds of relationships that boxing is built on and that his other fighters depend on.
Haymon, Showtime, and Golden Boy Promotions form a mighty alliance, but unfortunately for Golden Boy, there’s no need to let it in on a Mayweather-Pacquiao welterweight extravaganza. In fact, Golden Boy is the skunk at the picnic. Its boss Richard Schaefer tries to suppress the very idea of such a fight. It won’t happen, he states flatly. What he really means is it won’t happen with his participation, but he has no more right to speak for Floyd than Floyd’s drycleaner. And Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya has lately shown more tolerance for letting the fight happen.
Pacquiao has a promotional contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank. Mayweather contracts with Golden Boy to perform promotional duties one fight at a time. Although Top Rank works almost exclusively with HBO, Todd DuBoef, its president, has already indicated to me that he’d be willing to work with Showtime on a Mayweather-Pacquiao bout in the autumn of 2014, after Pacquiao takes another opponent in April and Mayweather competes in May.
From time to time Mayweather claims there’s no need to fight Pacquiao because after all, the Philippines congressman lost two of his last three. But in what way does it make sense to avoid taking the biggest money fight that he could make? Especially if, as Floyd tells us, Pac-man is no more than a speed bump on his blazing trail of greatness?
Obviously it’s better to fight for $95 million than $60 million, but not if the bigger purse costs Floyd his legacy as an undefeated fighter. On the other hand, his legacy would remain forever tarnished if he fails to take this very obvious match – an event so huge it would practically rival the Super Bowl, which brings about $150 million to the host city. Under ordinary circumstances this fight would be made as a matter of course, no arguments. Pacquiao is now the Number One WBC contender, and a victory over Pacquiao would carve Mayweather’s name in cement on the list of all-time greats. But these aren’t ordinary circumstances.
If anyone can persuade Floyd to take on Pacquiao, Haymon can. In fact, if he can’t do it, probably no one can.
But will Haymon argue in favor of a match that would sour his relationship with the biggest promoter in boxing? Arum knows all this. He sits back and waits for a call to begin talking about a deal that would wound his enemy Schaefer. Will Haymon make that call?
Haymon, Showtime, and Golden Boy have come a long way together, but sometimes you just have to look away while a pal takes a hit. As the original Godfather used to say, it’s only business.
(Another article in Haymon series coming soon)
Ivan G. Goldman’s boxing novel The Barfighter was nominated as a 2009 Notable Book by the American Library Association. Information HERE