“Money” arrives in Vegas on Tuesday; as always, he generates debates and emotions in fight fans, and vast amounts of copy from writers who remain fixated on what makes him tick, and why he doesn't seem so keen on making a fight all boxing fans want to see.
A Twitter friend asked me on Tuesday why I continue to perseverate on The Fight when it is obviously dead on pre-arrival.
A good question, I had to give it to him.
Why indeed write about a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight when Mayweather is set to fight in a real-deal scrap, not a theoretical one, in just a few days. That excellent and pointed query got me thinking: why am I spending time and energy writing about Mayweather-Pacquiao when Mayweather-Cotto is at hand?
Here's why: because it's a mystery, and I like mysteries, and am an intellectually curious soul who is often moved to try and solve mysteries, or at least make enough sense of them so they don't stay lodged in my brain, bugging me. Yeah, this one bugs me. I just don't get it. And I'm not inclined to shrug it off, and move on. You can call that persistent, or mule-ishly stubborn. Why can't the parties involved give the fans what they want, what they've wanted for a few years?
Now, it can be argued that this is a business, and the customer isn't always right, so to hell with the customers. Believe me, boxing fans are quite used to this line of thinking. But, if the fans do not matter all that much, shouldn't the money matter? Shouldn't the fact that about a quarter billion dollars be grossed from this superfight spur the involved parties to get it done? One would think…but since conventional wisdom hasn't been adhered to, and a no-brainer of a fight hasn't been made, we are left to wonder why. I ponder it on a daily basis, right or wrong, because I have a fundamental dislike for situation where rationality is tossed out the window. I spend too much time why voters vote for politicians who craft and adhere to policies which leave them poorer on a daily if not hourly basis, and why The Fight hasn't been made almost as often.
So…forgive my long winded prologue to part two of my discussion with ex HBO boxing chief Seth Abraham, who I had the pleasure of chatting with a short time ago. He now runs a consulting shop, Starship, and teaches part-time.
Abraham told me he thinks Mayweather-Pacquiao won't happen–“The percentage chance of the fight happening, today, is zero”–and it's not because of money.
At various times, I've thought that it is about “Money,” that Floyd's pride won't let him be party to a situation which will enrich Pacquiao, who has a lawsuit against Mayweather, for defamation, pending. I mean, wouldn't you think that Floyd could get past his enmity for the Filipino if it were to mean he'd net double or triple the amount he's ever made for a fight? I would…But Abraham says money isn't the sticking point.
“I believe it's not about money,” Abraham told me. “I don't think it has anything to do with blood work or money. Both fighters would make vast sums.” No, the ex HBO head thinks that Floyd is more concerned with legacy, not money. He wants to be lumped in with the Sugars and Ali, as an all-time fight god, and he thinks that retiring undefeated will go a long way in helping that legacy be achieved. (He's probably right…as years pass, fewer and fewer folks would be inclined to dig down on Floyd's record, and examine if in fact he fought the best and brightest of his era, when they were freshest and most dangerous, or not. They would and will reach for the most tantalizing, low-hanging fruit of statistic: that zero. That lack of a loss. That will speak louder and louder as the decades pass, IMO.)
Abraham told me that back in 2000, when HBO was trying to nail down an extension with Floyd–he'd been making about $800,000 a fight, and the new deal would pay him about $4 million per bout–he tried to argue that fighting and beating the best was more important for his legacy than that “0.”
“He didn't buy it,” Abraham said.
Furthermore, Abraham said if Pacquiao loses, to Tim Bradley, then The Fight for sure doesn't happen. “Then Floyd feels vindicated. He will fight you, me and Larry Merchant. He'll get as many victories as he can.”
Regularly, fight fans or even casual sports fans will ask me if Floyd is smart, or dumb. I tell them he is not dumb, for sure. Now, can he be ignorant, and insensitive and engage in speech and behaviors that suggest he has racist tendencies? Just look at his recent history, on Ustream, and the fact that he seems casually use language that many would term hurtful, words which play up differences in sexuality or ethnicity. Would some folks determine that anyone that fixates so much on money, and seems to believe that net worth equates to self worth and indicates a certain status in society is “stupid?” They would; but I don't think “stupid” is the correct designation at all. Abraham agrees: “Floyd is very much his own man. He has his advisors. But Floyd is his own man, for better or worse.”
The man who spent hundreds if not thousands of hours doing deals with Don King and Bob Arum at their apex in the 80s and 90s does think that advisors will lobby Floyd to make The Fight. (Remember, while wealth hasn't trickled down to the masses in the last 40 years in America, we can assume dough from The Fight would enrich members of the Mayweather and Pacquiao teams, so if you are rooting for The Fight to happen, I guess you have to hope that Al Haymon holds more sway over Floyd than some think he does.) Back in 2000, Abraham sat in his office in NY with Floyd and Arum, then his promoter. He pre-arranged with Arum to get the promoter to step out of the meeting, when things bogged down. Abraham said he asked Floyd why he wouldn't sign a deal that would increase his purses almost five times.
“He couldn't come up with a reasonable explanation,” Abraham said. “That told me he is his best and worst advisor. He is a great, great talent in the ring. But I don't know why he doesn't listen more to his advisors.”
I'd offer that maybe it is because, historically, advisors are quite often in it to enrich themselves first and foremost, and do not actually give a tinker's damn about the boxer they represent. So…maybe this indicates that Floyd is actually far smarter and craftier than most if not all pundits have given him credit for.
Well, I could go on for another few thousand words. I'm quite sure that in the very near future, I will delve into elements of The Fight Seth Abraham Thinks Will Not Happen we didn't touch on, like, just what the heck is it about Pacquiao, and his style, or his training regimen, which puts the fear of the legacy-smearing loss in Mayweather, in depth. I leave you, if you are tired of pondering the issue, with a muted apology, and if you still hunger to see The Fight, a promise to keep on examining the matter, helping if at all possible to shed light on the subject, and in some small way, helping push the event towards fruition.
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