Looks like Pacquiao-Mayweather may never happen

July 19, 2010 in Boxing by pacejmiller

Here’s a quick update on those still wondering whether the megabout between pound-for-pound number 1 and 2 Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr will ever happen.

The answer: probably no.

The second round of negotiations has broken down, and with Mayweather being non-commital about fighting Pacquiao and Pacquiao being tied down by his commitments as a Filipino congressman, it appears unlikely that the two men will ever step into the same ring.

(click on ‘more…’ to read this post)

What happened last time

After Pacquiao defeated Miguel Cotto in November 2009, Top Rank (Pacquiao’s promoter) entered into negotiations with Floyd Mayweather’s team and Golden Boy (who signed on to co-promote Mayweather for his next few bouts) to try and set up the biggest fight of the decade between the two best boxers in the world on 13 March 2010.

Pacquiao demolished Cotto over 12 rounds

Most issues were ironed out relatively quickly, including the gloves and the penalty for coming in over the weight limit, but negotiations eventually fell apart over the drug testing procedures to be implemented for the fight.

In Las Vegas (where the fight would have been held), drug tests are administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and only involve urine testing.  Given Pacquiao’s meteoric rise in both fame and weight over the last few years, Mayweather’s camp insinuated that Pacquiao has been using performance enhancing drugs (PED) and insisted on unprecedented Olympic-style testing by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).  This would involve unlimited random blood testing to go along with the urine testing up to the day of the fight, as well post-fight tests.

Since his loss to Eric Morales in 2005, Pacquiao has believed that blood tests would weaken him (despite no scientific evidence) and wanted a cut-off date for random blood tests up to 30 days before the fight.  After being reminded that he had a blood test 24 days out from the Ricky Hatton fight, Pacquiao agreed to a cut-off date of 24 days.

However, Mayweather insisted on a cut-off date of no less than 14 days, and as a result the fight was called off despite going into mediation to try and resolve the issues.  The entire process was played out in front of the media with lots of trash talking and finger pointing.  Pacquiao even commenced legal proceedings against Mayweather for the unfounded PED allegations (as Pacquiao has never failed a drug test).

Recap of latest negotiations

Pacquiao still ended up fighting on 13 March 2010 against Joshua Clottey, whom Pacquiao defeated easily via a 12-round decision.  Mayweather separately dominated Shane Mosley also by decision on 1 May 2010.

Mayweather overcame Mosley with ease

Shortly after, Bob Arum from Top Rank recommended negotiations with Mayweather’s team (led by Al Haymon) in a second effort to put the fight together for 13 November 2010.  Even though Manny Pacquiao has become a congressman in the Philippines, he would still be able to work his way around his commitments and fight Mayweather on that date.

This time, the negotiations were more structured and less intense.  For starters, Arum had no direct contact with anyone from the Mayweather team.  Instead, the negotiations were done through an intermediary, Ross Greenburg (President of HBO Sports), who passed on Arum’s messages to Al Haymon on Mayweather’s side and vice versa.  Secondly, the negotiations were done almost entirely in private and out of the media to prevent things from spiralling out of control like last time.

After the Mosley bout Mayweather said he had withdrawn the 14-day cut-off for random blood testing and now wanted testing up to the date of the fight, but according to Arum, the two sides (through Greenburg) had reached an agreement on all the terms, including the procedures for blood testing (though the exact terms were not disclosed).   Arum took the terms to Pacquiao who agreed and Haymon took the terms to Mayweather on around 3o June 2010 with the aim of getting his final sign-off.

Nothing was heard of from the Mayweather camp for a couple of weeks and Arum decided to impose a “deadline” of midnight 17 July 2010 — not for Mayweather to accept the terms, but to mark the end of the “exclusivity period” which was promised to the Mayweather camp when negotiations began.  In other words, Arum had agreed not to negotiate with any other boxers for a bout with Pacquiao during this period.

The deadline came and went without any comment from Mayweather.  Haymon does not speak to the media and Mayweather’s other advisor Leonard Ellerbe has not returned any messages or calls for comment.

Where to from now?

Now that the exclusivity period is over, Arum will proceed to put together a fight for Manny Pacquiao on 13 November against either Miguel Cotto or Antonio Margarito, both Top Rank fighters.  Since the fighters are all from the same promotional company, Arum believes it will only take 10 days to ink in a deal.

Arum has made it clear that if Mayweather comes back to the table for the 13 November date then he will still get first preference as that is by far the biggest fight available, but he must do so before a fight with another fighter is signed.  Otherwise, Mayweather will have to wait until after 13 November to start the negotiation process all over again for a fight in 2011.

Bob Arum called a press conference shortly after the deadline passed to answer questions.  A full transcript of the conference can be found here.  In it, Arum was not critical of Floyd or his advisors and said that he believed there was a genuine reason why Floyd has not committed, including the possibility that he may not have his trainer and uncle Roger Mayweather in his corner due to an impending battery charge.

Mayweather continued his silence until a recent public appearance as a coach for a charity basketball game in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Alonzo Mourning.  When asked about the Pacquiao fight, Mayweather said: “I’m not interested in rushing to do anything.  I’m not really thinking about boxing right now.  I’m just relaxing.  I fought about 60 days ago, so I’m just enjoying myself, enjoying life, enjoying my family and enjoying my vacation.”

In other words, don’t expect a Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown in 2010, and be very surprised if it every happens.

Thoughts

The first time the fight negotiations broke down fingers were pointed at both sides, but more towards Pacquiao than Mayweather for refusing the more stringent blood testing prcoedures.  Sure, Mayweather shouldn’t have been dictating the rules and doing the job of the NSAC for them, but for $40 million Pacquiao should have been willing to take a little blood with no scientifically proven detriments.  Besides, both fighters were going to have blood taken and more importantly for Pacquiao, refusing blood testing had cast a shadow of doubt over his impressive legacy.  Whether blood testing is justified or not, many boxing fans cannot fathom why Pacquiao would risk suspicion for the rest of his career.

This time, however, the blame has come down squarely on Mayweather’s shoulders.  Mayweather diehards will continue to argue that Floyd is his own man and should not be subjected to any limitations or deadlines from Top Rank and Bob Arum, but most boxing fans and the general public will view Floyd’s refusal as an act of cowardice.  In fighting Pacquiao at a 50-50 split, Mayweather would make enough money to set himself up for life (estimates are around $40 million plus) and provide him with the opportunity to once again ascend to the pound-for-pound throne and cement his place in boxing history.  It is clear that Pacquiao’s popularity and rise to stardom has annoyed Mayweather and this would have been the perfect opportunity for him to shut everyone up.  It’s not like Mayweather would have been an underdog in this fight.  Most boxing experts and bookies would probably make him the favourite.  Both fighters are in the primes of their careers and there is no other opponent out there that comes even close for either guy.

There are no excuses for Mayweather this time.  If he had no intention of fighting Pacquiao on 13 November 2010 he should have made this clear from the outset.  Instead, he allowed his advisors to work their butts off in trying to secure this fight for him and negotiate terms that he has said he would agree to.  When everything was in place, he backed out without a legitimate reason.

Again, if Mayweather was worried about not having his uncle in his corner, all he had to do was say so.  If he didn’t want to fight for the rest of the year, again, one phone call to Al Haymon would have resolved everything.  Al Haymon would not have gone ahead and started negotiating with Bob Arum unless Mayweather had given him the okay to do so.  What is the point of making everyone go through this if he simply did not want the fight?  This was no one-sided negotiation initiated by Arum.  This was a two-sided negotiation conducted through a neutral facilitator (Greenburg) and it could not remain open ended forever.  As hard as it is to sympathise with someone as despicable as Bob Arum you have to see where he is coming from with this one.  As far as he was concerned Mayweather’s advisors said that they were happy with the terms of the deal.  If so, it should not take more than two weeks and not get a response at all.  Not even any pushback or suggested changes or new terms.  Nothing.  There was no point in being jerked around for longer and impede on the promotion of Pacquiao’s next fight.

Neither Margarito or Cotto are intriguing matchups for Pacquiao

Now all of a sudden the tables have turned again.  Mayweather is now looked upon as a coward that never wanted a piece of Pacquiao in the first place.  Even the insistence on blood testing is now considered nothing more than a ploy to avoid fighting the Pacman.  If the two end up never fighting each other Mayweather will be remembered as the one that ducked Pacquiao.

As for Pacquiao, it looks like he will go on to fight either Miguel Cotto or Antonio Margarito on 13 November in a fight no one really wants to see.  He has already thoroughly dominated Cotto in their last fight, and even though this one would take place at 154 pounds and Cotto now has Emanuel Steward in his corner, there really isn’t much to get excited about.  On the other hand, Antonio Margarito is a disgraced cheater (illegal hand wraps) who doesn’t even deserve a chance to fight.  He’s going to have trouble securing a license in Nevada and as a result they may have to shift the fight to Mexico.

Sadly, there is no winner here.