Maybe you're one of those optimistic types who holds out hope that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will glove up later this year. Makes so much sense, since the overwhelming majority of boxing fans would like that fight to get made, and the two boxers are the most marketable and high-earning pugilists in the trade. Yet…sticking points always pop up as to why The Fight is never coming together.
The last reasoning we heard is that Floyd Mayweather wants to steer the whole ship, and doesn't care to share the rudder with Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum.
A few weeks back, a man who has worked as an attorney for Pacman, Franklin Gacal, went public with his wish that Arum release Pacquiao from his contract with Top Rank, so Floyd's high hurdle is surmounted, paving the way for that fight to be made. I chatted with Pacman trainer Freddie Roach soon after Gacal's statement hit the wires and Roach sounded agreeable to that. Arum could step aside, get a chunk of cash for his trouble, and then circle back with Manny after Mayweather-Pacquiao gets done, Freddie said.
On Thursday, I chatted with Arum, the 82-year-old dealmaker who was born in Brooklyn and did his business in NYC before moving to the warmer (as in temperature and tax culpability) climes of Las Vegas in 1986. He was in town for the press conference to hype the April 12 Top Rank/HBO PPV show featuring a Pacquiao-Tim Bradley rematch. Off the bat, he had me cracking up, with a warmup spiel: “Never believe anything a promoter says. That's the first thing. Because a promoter's job is to sell a fight. Who do you believe, other than your own instincts, as to whether a fight is competitive? The oddsmakers in Las Vegas. And this is practically an even-money fight. The first Pacquiao-Bradley fight, going in, was 9 to 1.”
I happen to agree with Arum, and in fact, believe him when he says it's a pick 'em bout, contrary to his advisement not to do so.
But of course, the topic of Floyd Mayweather came up, and I asked Arum about Mayweather's Super Bowl special, his Fan Poll, which asks fight fans if they'd rather he fight Brit Amir Khan, or Argentine bomber Marcos Maidana, in his next tussle, May 3. You'll recall, Arum was in make-nice mode not long ago when in NYC, lauding all Mayweathers during a presser to hype a card topped by Guillermo Rigondeaux in AC. That mood has passed, it seems like. Arum wasn't keen to talk about the Fan Poll, but then he got cooking.
“Look, I'm tired of beating a dead horse,” he told me. “Because it's not productive. But we have to realize, and I know Mayweather, he doesn't want to fight Pacquiao, because of Pacquiao's style. Mayweather's style is of great defense against a right-handed fighter. A fast lefty who can punch a little bit will give him trouble. Pacquiao really creates the biggest danger to Mayweathers' undefeated record, more than any other fighter. He's not going to fight him. I tell Manny, Mayweather will make one demand after another, and you can accede to the demand, but he's not going to get you the fight.”
And the latest demand was requesting a divorce of the Arum-Top Rank marriage…
“This is like a tactic, I'm not equating the politics, it's like Hitler,” he continued. “Before the Second World War, 'give me Czechosolovakia, there'll be peace,' and this and that..and (Neville) Chamberlain (then UK Prime Minister) kept appeasing, kept appeasing…was there ever going to be peace? No. No. It's not going to get anybody closer to that fight.”
“That's a pretty heavy-duty analogy,” I pointed out to Arum.
“That's the truth,” he said. “That's the truth. You do something like that, that's the tactic. You bully, you bully, you bully…finally the guy says, 'Enough,' and he says, 'See, you don't want to fight me.”
Referring back to those oddsmakers…is there any person out there who is thinking that the chances of a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight occurring this year, after hearing that Arum “H” word reference, as anything but a million to one shot?
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