Slow Fade

By Zach Arnold May 13, 2014
Floyd Mayweather has four fights remaining on his current deal. | Ed Mulholland/Golden Boy/Getty Images

After Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated Marcos Maidana by majority decision on May 3, the fans again immediately clamored for Mayweather to finally fight Manny Pacquiao. A tweet from Muhammad Ali encapsulated their desires, and Oscar De La Hoya, who is in a power struggle in the very promotional company he founded, has expressed interest in co-promoting a mega fight with Top Rank and HBO.

However, the fans and De La Hoya are not Mayweather; they are not Richard Schaefer; they are not Leonard Ellerbe; and they are not Al Haymon. These four men, along with Stephen Espinoza, of Showtime, are the major power brokers right now. For these men, booking Mayweather in a fight with Pacquiao only makes sense if they possess all the bargaining power and leverage. It only makes sense if the conditions ensure Mayweather beats Pacquiao and puts HBO in a position to reconsider its commitment to boxing. The business interests of those in the Showtime nexus are far different than the business interests for those at HBO and Top Rank. Everyone wants to make money, but Showtime and Schaefer want to put the competition out of business for good. They want to do to boxing what Vince McMahon did to the American professional wrestling scene and what Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta have managed to do with the Ultimate Fighting Championship in mixed martial arts.

The great irony behind this desire to put everyone out of business is the argument -- made by Schaefer and company -- that a boxing scene dominated by one promotion would give the fans all the big fights they want to see. It is this desire for a one-promotion sport that is actually developing into a major roadblock for the one mega-fight that everyone wants to see right now.

There are plenty of reasons and rewards for booking Pacquiao against Mayweather. However, in today’s American political culture, the path of least resistance always involves driving up the negatives of any situation that calls for change rather than driving up the positives to actually be bold and do what is necessary to accomplish what is right.

Photo: Mike Sloan/

For Pacquiao, time is running out.
Thanks to Maidana’s gritty performance against Mayweather, “Money” has a built-in rematch for September in Las Vegas. As the seconds tick by, Father Time ensures we are one step closer to the door getting shut on Mayweather ever facing Pacquiao. If the parties keep avoiding each other, eventually the only time they will ever fight each other is under circumstances similar to those that existed for Roberto Duran-“Sugar” Ray Leonard 3.

Mayweather sees a rematch with Maidana as a lower-risk proposition with more money in his pocket because his opponent will not ask for nearly the amount of cash that Pacquiao and promoter Bob Arum would seek. If there is one thing we know about Mayweather, it is that he is as risk-adverse inside the ring as he is risky outside of it. His ability to market safety in a sport legally classified as ultra-hazardous is truly skillful.

The plot behind the scenes continues to thicken. De La Hoya held a press conference before the Mayweather-Maidana fight and talked about his desire to work with Arum again. He is reportedly distressed that power broker Haymon is able to get some of his fighters booked on Golden Boy events. De La Hoya, who desperately wants to co-promote with Arum, is finally realizing he holds little power in the business relationship with Schaefer and Haymon. When push comes to shove, Mayweather is going to side with the cash, and the cash in this relationship is with Schaefer. This puts De La Hoya and his allies in a precarious position. Mayweather is already thinking about retirement and being heavily involved on the promotional side of boxing. He would love to retire with a record of 50-0 and become a kingmaker. Schaefer and Ellerbe can set him up for the right path. He is not going against their business interests, let alone his own business interests.

HBO has plenty of incentive to get a bout between Pacquiao and Mayweather booked. It would be the biggest circus since the Mike Tyson fight with Lennox Lewis in Memphis, where we had dueling ring announcers in Michael Buffer and Jimmy Lennon Jr. Pacquiao still has a great shot of beating Mayweather. If he won, it would damage Mayweather’s legacy and give HBO a much needed shot in the arm after recent poachings by Team Showtime. Main Events can file all the lawsuits they want against Team Showtime to try to put some sunlight on Haymon, but nothing would give the anti-Golden Boy forces more leverage than a Mayweather defeat.

Everyone has a price in combat sports. As long as Mayweather is able to make “safe money” by fighting anyone other than Pacquiao, it suits his business interests and the business interests of his partners. HBO and Top Rank are all about making money. Golden Boy, Haymon and Showtime are not just interested in making money; they are interested in taking out the competition. It is hard to negotiate a deal between two parties when one of the parties involved has a mission to kill the other’s business interests by any means necessary.


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