TOO many cooks are spoiling the broth. In the case of the on-and-off negotiations to bring about the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather, Jr. megafight, it may be a case of too many crooks spoiling boxing’s most palatable fight.
Five years and counting, boxing’s biggest fight remains a figment of the imagination, a striptease that to this day refuses to completely unravel. Just when it appears that the two sides have finally come to terms, one starts accusing the other of peddling lies. For every issue resolved, another ten issues crop up.
Top Rank Promotions head honcho Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, is taking a lot of heat for the protracted negotiations. As the ‘Pacman’s’ promoter, Arum is obligated to secure the most competitive and most financially rewarding fight for his ward. That fight is a showdown with Mayweather Jr. which is guaranteed to be the richest in boxing history. But instead of focusing solely on the match, Arum has lately been feeding Pacquiao with nondescripts like Brandon Rios and Chris Algieri. It is even sickening to hear Arum talking about the possibility of Pacquiao fighting Jessie Vargas (the World Boxing Association junior welterweight champion who is not even a household name in his own household) in the event the Mayweather Jr. fight crumbles.
The popular and prevailing opinion is that Arum refuses to come to terms with Mayweather’s camp because he wants Pacquiao – and all the profits he can generate from the ‘Pacman’ – for himself. The dream match is guaranteed to rake in big bucks, but given the 60-40 split Pacquiao is amenable to, it means that Arum will only have 40 percent of the cake. On the other hand, Arum can easily arrange one or two other fights involving Pacquiao and somebody under contract with Top Rank and savor all the profits for himself.
There is also the theory that Arum wants no part of Mayweather, Jr., if only to get back at him after the American boxer severed his ties with Top Rank several years ago and accused Arum of paying him like a slave. With the gargantuan amount of money involved in a Pacquiao fight, the best measure of revenge for Arum is for Mayweather Jr. to have no part in it.
Arum, of course, is not one to take the accusations sitting down. He is pointing the accusing finger on Mayweather Jr. and the champ’s entourage who appear to be more into hip-hop than boxing. “Nobody’s listening to anybody,” Arum has been quoted as saying, adding that in his 50 years of doing business in the sport, he has never seen a negotiation as crazy as the one involving Pacquiao and Mayweather.
Arum recently hinted that the fight is close to being a done deal, and Pacquiao seconded him by announcing that there is already an “agreement.” However, Mayweather Jr. made a cameo at the NBA All-Star game and denied reports of a done deal. The problem with the ongoing negotiation is that there appears to be no draft contract that both camps can evaluate and study. Any transaction, especially one that involves tons of cash, should have a draft contract that contains provisions the parties can modify or enhance in the course of the negotiation. A negotiation based on verbal averments is very difficult to finalize because one party can easily deny what he previously agreed on. Pacquiao can only say that there is an “agreement,” but an agreement does not necessarily mean a written one.
That Pacquiao and Mayweather are represented by two separate networks makes the negotiations all the more difficult. Pacquiao’s pay-per-view fights are beamed by HBO while it is Showtime that carries Mayweather Jr.’s fights. HBO and Showtime joined forces back in 2002 when Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis fought for the world heavyweight title. But it was so easy for HBO and Showtime to be kissing cousins in that fight because, let’s be honest, Tyson was already on the way out when he fought Lewis. The Pacquiao-Mayweather scuffle is a totally different fight because it features two superstars who are still at the top of their game. Showtime’s contract with Mayweather, Jr., which is down to just two fights, is worth in excess of $200 million. For obvious reasons, Showtime cannot just hook up with HBO without ensuring that it will get enough dough to cover the deal with Mayweather Jr. and its own coffers. Consequently, just when it appears that Pacquiao and Mayweather are already on the same page, a new feud cropped up involving HBO and Showtime.
Mayweather Jr. recently approached Pacquiao and asked that they settle any problem among themselves. Clearly, Mayweather Jr. wanted Pacquiao to realize that they can get more money if they agree to cut the middle men. But Mayweather ought to know that Pacquiao cannot negotiate on his own. And one can already foresee the Harvard-educated Arum going to court and seeking an injunction in the event he is left out of the negotiations.
Mayweather Jr. has also gone on the offensive in the blame game. The undefeated champion has been accused of being a coward, but insiders say he really wants the fight. Mayweather Jr. has accused Pacquiao’s camp of peddling lies, of making it appear that the fight is a done deal so in the end, if all things fall apart, he will end up taking the brunt of the blame. There appears to be some tinge of truth in Mayweather Jr.’s remarks. Note that the bulk of the news about the fight being a done deal has primarily emanated from Pacquiao’s camp. If it was not Arum saying that a deal is close to being made, it is Pacquiao telling reporters that an “agreement” has been reached. The idea here may be to pin Mayweather Jr. against the wall and leave him no choice but to accept the fight.
As the clock continues to tick, boxing fans can only hope that the waiting game will soon come to a fruitful conclusion. There is still reason to hope because Pacquiao and Mayweather Jr. have not talked about taking on separate foes in May. Then again, at this stage in the negotiation, that is if one is actually taking place, boxing fans will not accept another fight other than Pacquiao-Mayweather Jr. If the two end up announcing that they will be taking separate foes, expect both fighters to be literally pelted with debris.