By Ivan G. Goldman
Floyd Mayweather gets out of the can Friday. Assuming he doesn’t march over to his ex-girlfriend’s house and slap her around again, we can once again speculate on whether or not he will throw down with Manny Pacquiao in what would surely be the biggest-money fight of all time.
photo by Gene Blevins/Hogan Photos
And the answer is that this dazzling super-battle the world desperately wants to see is a little less impossible to put together now than it was before Floyd went to jail two months ago.
But there’s bad news too. Both fighters are clearly on the down-slide. If they fight, it will mean less and prove less as time goes on. If they were somehow to crash through all the impediments and step into the ring next week it would already be less meaningful than it would have been last year. I know it hurts to read those words. It also hurts to write them. Why? Because we know they’re true.
First, why has the possibility of the match-up moved slightly away from zero? Because Floyd and his rapper-businessman pal 50 Cent have formed their own promotional company, TMT (The Money Team). And the business war between Golden boy, which had been promoting Mayweather, and Bob Arum’s Top Rank is at its peak, more fierce and irrational than it’s ever been now that Arum successfully hijacked the Mexican Independence Day fight date from his rival. Arum, who’s more cunning and just plain luckier, offers a pay-per-view show on September 15, Sergio Martinez–Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., that’s considerably more attractive than Golden Boy’s Saul (Canelo) Alvarez-Josesito Lopez on Showtime.
What does this have to do with Mayweather-Pacquiao? Everything. As they moved their board pieces, both promoters acted illogically, almost incoherently before it was over. Their simmering rivalry has boiled over into uncompromising, senseless hatred. At this point it’s impossible for them to communicate. Which in itself is crazy. Imagine the Red Sox and the Yankees no longer playing each other because the owners quarreled.
Anyway, exit Golden Boy from the Mayweather scenario and enter 50 Cent. He’s not putting this company together for kicks. The idea is to make money. Meanwhile, Arum is reportedly flying to the Philippines this very weekend to discuss who Pacquiao will fight on the November 10 date they’ve already set. (Arum’s loathing for the Golden Boy people may energize him into doing business past his 100th birthday. You know any other 80-year-old men running around the world making complicated deals like that?)
Will they come up with Mayweather as an opponent? Not likely. The timing is poor. Too many obstacles to overcome in too short a time. Even if they put out the challenge, it’s unlikely Mayweather would go along.
The three Pacquiao opponents being mentioned are Timothy Bradley, Miguel Cotto, and Juan Manuel Marquez. All these rematches have problems, although a Bradley-Pacquiao rematch makes sense because of the horribly controversial outcome of the first fight. But there are no Hispanics in the fight, something that Arum expects would hurt sales.
A quick look at some hard facts: Mayweather turned 35 in February. He’s fought only eight times in the last six years. In those eight contests he scored only two stoppages, including that bizarre farce with Ortiz, which ended in a sucker punch made possible by Ortiz’s lack of focus and the impossible incompetence of referee Joe Cortez. In his last fight, against Cotto, Mayweather’s skills had clearly eroded. With his legs practically shot, he spent an awful lot of time on the ropes. There his awesome shoulder roll served as his primary defense, but he’s still not the same Mayweather he used to be.
Over that same six-year span Pacquiao fought 14 times. Pacquiao, who turned 33 in December, is considerably more battered, having endured 60 pro fights since turning pro nearly 18 years ago. His aggressive style has placed him in many wars. Yet he’s scored only one stoppage in his last six contests. It’s a fact of life. As fighters move up in weight their punches are relatively less lethal against the more sizeable opponents they face. At the same time they lose powers of endurance, speed, and hand-eye coordination. For example, at age 34, the great Sugar Ray Leonard, competing as a middleweight, was thoroughly outclassed by young lion Terry Norris. Father Time knows our true age.
Mayweather’s history includes a flat resistance to fighting Pacquiao. That resistance could wane with time. But the world at large will yearn for the match long after knowledgeable fans know it no longer makes much sense.
Ivan G. Goldman’s latest novel Isaac: A Modern Fable came out in April 2012 from Permanent Press. Information HERE