We could look into the rear-view mirror, try and assess blame, figure out who dropped the ball in the second attempt to put together the superfight all of us crave, Manny vs. Money. It would have been the fight of the decade, maybe in two. Non boxing fans would have been buzzing, or at least, cognizant of it. Instead, we are left with rubble to sift through, if we choose. Or we can choose to use our time more wisely, by focusing on the future. We can try and help plot the course for Congressman Pacquiao, try and give promoter Bob Arum some free market research, help him gauge what the public wants to see.
Hey, I have an idea…how about we do a little of both? A little look back, an attempt to make some sense of the flameout that scotched the hopes for a Manny-Money clash for this year, and frankly, maybe forever. AND a look ahead, with ample input from TSS U, who collectively will offer clear-headed analysis on who Manny should fight next, and why.
First off, its looking like the court of public opinion is saying Mayweather didnt want this fight, that Manny did, that Manny made concessions, and showed good faith in trying to get er done. In fact, that isnt speculation; Floyd himself said as much to the AP two days ago, after Bob Arums Friday-at-midnight line in the sand deadline passed with Floyd choosing not to sign on the dotted line to take on Manny.
Im not interested in rushing to do anything, Mayweather told The Associated Press. Im not really thinking about boxing right now. Im just relaxing. I fought about 60 days ago, so Im just enjoying myself, enjoying life, enjoying my family and enjoying my vacation.
Nothing wrong with doing that, of course. But it would have saved us keyboard tappers some time, and energy, if he had laid this six weeks ago. This limited-in-length statement, however, leaves much open to interpretation. We dont know, because Mayweather and his team chooses to withhold comment so much, if he was thinking of boxing more a week ago, two weeks ago. Maybe he in fact was seriously entertaining the notion of fighting Pacquiao, and quieting the detractors who allege he is running scared of the Congressman. We cant know, because Floyd chooses not to do much press, as is his choice.
One thing that isnt open to interpretation is the bad blood left behind, after Arum announced that the exclusivity window to Pacman-Mayweather negotiations had ended. Mayweather advisor Leonard Ellerbe on Monday, a day after Floyd said he wasnt thinking about boxing, put Arum on blast.
Here are the facts. Al Haymon, Richard Schaefer and myself speak to each other on a regular basis and the truth is no negotiations have ever taken place nor was there ever a deal agreed upon by Team Mayweather or Floyd Mayweather to fight Manny Pacquiao on November 13. Either Ross Greenburg or Bob Arum is not telling the truth, but history tells us who is lying, Ellerbe said.
That Ellerbe went there surprised some, because Arum seemed to bend over backwards, like a Cirque du Soleil performer, to offer cover to Floyd for not accepting the Pacquiao challenge.
Right now I understand Floyd’s position – I believe his position regarding Roger, Arum said on that Saturday morning conference call which your faithful, and sleep deprived editor stayed up for, because he is a masochist. We know about this serious issue regarding Roger. I can understand Floyd delaying any plans for a future fight until there is a resolution of the Roger situation. Once you understand that, how can you jump on the guy?
To me, that was classy. Was it posturing for negotiations sake? Impossible to say. But Arum came off as a human being, understanding that Floyd indeed might be unwilling to enter into such a megafight without the input of his Uncle Roger, who is slated to face trial starting Aug. 2 for an assault charge.
Ellerbe insinuated that Arum was lying when the promoter told the press on Saturday morning that negotiations had been held. About two months ago, just after the Mayweather-Mosley fight, I got a call from Ross Greenburg, the president of HBO Sports, who asked me frankly whether myself and Manny Pacquiao wanted to do the fight against Floyd Mayweather and I assured him after talking to Manny that was the case, Arum told the press. From there I have had a couple of conversations with Ross and I laid out all the terms that would be acceptable to our side and I also informed him about the concession that Manny had made about drug testing. He got back to me in a couple of weeks and told me he had discussions with Al Haymon, representing Mayweather, and that everything looked good.
So…things get murkier here. Ellerbe tells us that Al Haymon, repping Floyd, never told Arum that things were looking good. Ellerbe tells us that when Arum said Ross for the last month has been telling me that Haymon was working very hard to get the agreement done with Floyd, that is a fabrication.
Ellerbe appears to absolve Greenburg of engaging in untruths, with his history shows line; thats a reference to the famous yesterday I was lying… Arum statement, in a jocular vein, to Bob Waters in 1981. Ellerbe affixes the target on Arum, and ups the ante considerably. He gets personal, which really cant be considered all that surprising, considering that a lawsuit helmed by Team Pacquiao is still in play, one that accuses Team Mayweather of slander for saying/insinuating that Pacquiao uses PEDs. Readers know my stance, that as long as that was in play, I thought it would be hard for a deal to get done.
Greenburg has not thus far been dragged into the mud, for comment. I requested an interview with Greenburg on Tuesday afternoon, and HBO replied that they, and he, had no comment. Greenburg is in a tough spot, because if he were inclined to bark back, and counterattack, he could ruffle feathers in the Team Mayweather camp, not an ideal situation if he chooses to continue to do business with the first or second biggest cash cow in the business. Sometimes pride must be swallowed for the greater good, or the greater additions to the bottom line…
Arum responded to the Ellerbe piledriver, to writer Lem Satterfield. This is Alice in Wonderland time. This is preposterous. Its almost like dealing with people who lost their minds. Its totally bizarre, he said. Arum said Greenburg told him not to fire back, because attempts were still being made to make the fight happen.
My take–the two sides seem a gulf apart. Evel Knievel couldnt make this jump. (Arum inside joke.) I will not and would not hold my breath that well get an 11th hour rapprochement, with the two sides kissing, and making up, and announcing that terms have been reached for Nov. 13. But..stranger things have happened. Arum and Richard Schaefer have hammered each other back and forth over the years, and been able to put that aside, for the sake of the deal.
So…what say we engage in some constructive activity, namely, help Manny pick a foe for his next fight.
Arum said on his inhumanely late call that a fight with Antonio Margarito or a rematch with Miguel Cotto are Plan B for Manny. I could deal with a Margarito fight. He was found to be a cheater, and his license was suspended in the US, so that fight would likely be in Mexico. I expect that inactivity and stress have stripped him of a goodly portion of his skills, so I think Manny would pick him apart. The public, I think, would buy this fight, since theyd overall like to see a pound of flesh extracted from MargaCheato, as some here have dubbed him. Its not as easy to make a case for Manny-Cotto II. Pacquiao had his way with Cotto when they tangled in November 2009 (TKO12), and Arum thinks the addition of Manny Steward to Team Cotto has reinvigorated the 29-year-old Puerto Rican. Enough to raise his game the 30% needed to make it even with Manny? Thats a harder sell to the public…and lets not forget, ever, that selling to the public, and getting them to part with dough, is the bottom line here. So, who else should be in the mix? Tim Bradley, who maybe possesses the biggest reserve of stamina in the sport, next to Pacquiao. Id buy that on PPV…but would non boxing fans? Id say yes, because Top Rank has no peer at selling bouts. They had a lot of people believing that Joshua Clottey was a mini-monster, ready to take down Pacquiao. How about Paul Williams, Long Tall Paul? OK, so hes not a a household name outside the hardcore sphere. Again, I refer back to the Top Rank PR machine. Bob could sell it. Not sure Freddie would like this one, with Williams reach (82 to 67 inch edge for LTP) and beard, but Id like to see it, more than I would a rematch with Cotto. And there are still scads of you who think Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny need to do it again. You have a point–of anyone, JMM has Mannys number. What about adding Andre Berto into the mix? Young, aggressive, active, owns a title at 147? Rather see him than Manny-Cotto II? While were at it, how about inviting Amir Khan up to 147, and making Freddie Roach choose his corner.
TSS U, I pass the baton to you. Please tell Top Rank who youd like to see Manny fight next. It may be too late, Arum said hed be working this week on getting a plan in place for Manny for November. But since you guys are the ones voting with your wallets, I see no reason why your input shouldnt matter.