By Ivan G. Goldman
It’s getting tougher and tougher for poor, skittish Floyd Mayeweather to avoid Manny Pacquiao, who’s already agreed to take any sort of PEDs test Floyd can dream up and even to let him have 55 percent of the purse money.
Meanwhile, fans and boxing scribes are also in close pursuit. The latest batch of stories about Pacquiao have very little to do with his December 8 match against Juan Manuel Marquez. Most of them focus on the possibility of a showdown next year with Mayweather.
Maybe, as promoter Bob Arum says, there are lots of pay-per-view dollars out there hungry for Pacquiao-Marquez Four, but clearly fight writers are bored with the idea. They’ve also run out of things to say about it. We had three close, evenly matched bouts and will probably get a fourth, though both fighters vow to score a kayo. Well, maybe. But after watching 36 rounds of action we’ve seen plenty of evidence that points to another decision that will be controversial even if it’s quite correct.
Pacquiao, still answering questions about Mayweather when he’s supposed to be touting his fight against Marquez, may himself be bored with 39-year-old Marquez. That’s dangerous. If he loses, Mayweather can at last close the book on him without too much adverse publicity.
Top Rank publicist Fred Sternburg this week distributed his second batch of stories about Pacquiao-Marquez Four, and six of them focused instead on reading chicken entrails to look for clues from Mayweather. Sternburg, let’s be clear, works for Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter. He wouldn’t send these stories around if he thought they’d displease his boss. Clearly Arum, like Manny, is tired of being patient.
The stories, for the most part, interpret any signals from Floyd as negotiating ploys designed to secure his demands even before any parley takes place. Rarely do they consider that Mayweather might not be signaling anything of the kind. Maybe he just won’t fight Pacquiao under any circumstances.
Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime sports, is reportedly in talks with the Mayweather camp in an effort to pry him away from HBO. That should surprise no one. After all, competition is as American as apple pie. No one can blame Floyd for trying to obtain a more lucrative deal by talking to both networks. But when you also bake Mayweather’s excessive caution into it, the pie loses flavor. Would it surprise anyone to learn that Floyd’s discussions involve televising him against another hand-picked opponent who has no hope? By injecting the Showtime-HBO rivalry into the mix he will find both networks more amenable to his needs and less likely to demand he face Pacquiao at last.
Mayweather’s knowledge of boxing is deep. In conjunction with his savvy Uncle Roger he’s analyzed Pac-man and wants no part of his speed, strength, and unpredictability. That’s the way it’s been for years, and his attitude is unlikely to change. Pacquiao looks to be slipping, but so are Floyd’s 35-year-old legs, and if he can’t move around the ring the way he used to, he doesn’t want Pacquiao pinning him to the ropes the way Miguel Cotto did. The outcome could be detrimental to Floyd’s undefeated record. I don’t really know whether Pacquiao would defeat Mayweather. Neither does Mayweather, and the uncertainty displeases him.
Mayweather was released from jail in Las Vegas August 3, when the whole world knew Manny wanted another fight before the end of the year. Four months was plenty of time to prepare for and market the will o’ the wisp super contest that Mayweather won’t accept. So he stayed hunkered down until Pacquiao made a deal to fight Marquez again.
Floyd has given us plenty of exciting moments. He’s nailed down the art of how to hit and not be hit. And for that, fans can be grateful. Who can forget the left hook that caught Ricky Hatton? But if you were to canvas professional fighters around the world from junior middleweight all the way down to strawweight — and there are thousands — how many do you think would hesitate to fight Pacquiao for $50 million? You guessed it. Only one.
Ivan G. Goldman’s critically acclaimed novel The Barfighter is set in the world of boxing. Information HERE
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