Pacquiao/Mayweather: The Road to Nowhere

Pacquiao/Mayweather: The Road to Nowhere

November 18, 2007. The idea of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. going toe-to-toe in a super-über-mega-fight first comes to light. Mark Vester of BoxingScene.com writes:

“In the dark, among writers, there has been some talk of a dream bout between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., at 140-pounds. Pacquiao came into the ring weighing 142 for his rematch with Marco Antonio Barrera, Mayweather can still make the junior welterweight limit. That fight, logically, is possible, yet unlikely to take place.” (“De La Hoya Eyes Pacquiao Bout? At 147?”)

This thought got the writers buzzing, and writing about the dream match-up, Chris Mannix and Bart Barry among the fantasizers.

September 26, 2008. The fight is still just a writer’s fantasy, a fight fan’s pipe dream, but Manny comes out with his first reaction. When asked if he would be interested — should he beat Oscar De La Hoya — in a Mayweather showdown, Manny has this to say to GMANEWS…

“That’s a possibility. If I win this fight maybe Floyd Mayweather will come out of retirement looking for a big fight.” (“Pacquiao eyes possible bout with Mayweather”)

Manny mentions later that year that the fight will work as long as his promoters can get with Floyd’s promoters and work it out.

December 20, 2008. After Manny destroys De La Hoya, Floyd answers with praise for Manny and confidence in beating him. Dan Rafael reports, from a conversation with manager Leonard Ellerbe, that Floyd said:

“It was a tremendous win for Pacquiao. He’s a good fighter, but I’ll beat his ass.” (“Mayweather to evaluate fight possibilities, adviser says”)

To set the tone for how the next year would unfold, it is important you pay attention to Ellerbe’s next words, from the very same article…

“Floyd has given Team Mayweather the green light to go out there and evaluate the biggest fights for him, to come back to him and present it to him. Then he will consider it.”

It is clear from this statement that Floyd holds the cards. He’s in retirement, but has given his manager the green light to start looking for fights. Manny is among those available.

Manny fights whomever his promoters put in front of him. He’s made a hell of a career out of it. And Floyd has made a hell of a career by being his own boss, and controlling his own destiny. There is a critical difference in that observation; monumental, in fact.

January 25, 2009. Shortly after Manny signs on to fight Hatton, and is no longer available as an opponent, Floyd begins to trash Manny. Gabriel Morency of Sports Rage recorded Mayweather saying the following…

“We all know, if you did your homework, that Manny Pacquiao is a ‘good fighter’. […] He’s been knocked down in the first round before and like three or four years ago, he’s the guy that’s outboxed by a washed out Erik Morales […] One of the Marquez brothers knocked him down three times in the first round and still got a draw so we know that he’s got outboxed in that fight, for real.” (“Mayweather Jr. belittles Pacquiao’s ring prowess”)

Pacquiao shrugs this off and continues to train for Hatton. Roach and Arum, on the other hand, see the megafight as something big, and make several statements in the interim implying they would like to see the fight happen.

March 2009. Dan Rafael reports the following: While Mayweather’s dad is busy training Hatton, and declaring he is going to “whup Pacquiao’s ass,” his son also indicates he wants to take on the winner of Pacquiao vs. Hatton.

May 2009. The buzz of Mayweather fighting the Pacquiao/Hatton winner is growing stronger. After Manny KO’s Hatton cold, that very same night, Floyd announces his return to the sport, and he’s got news: He will be fighting Juan Manuel Marquez.

May 27, 2009. Both camps begin to toss ideas around to the press. Top Rank and Team Pacquiao are interested in the fight with Mayweather, but want an even split. Floyd is quoted as saying:

“It will be a cold day in hell before that happens.” (“Floyd Mayweather Jr: ‘Pacquiao Will Never Get 50/50′”)

Arum eyes Mosley and Cotto for a fight that November, having reached a preemptive impasse with Mayweather. As we all know, Cotto got the calling, and the fight went down later that year.

September 2009. Floyd’s father issues a public apology to Manny Pacquiao for accusing him of using steroids prior to his fights. mb.com.ph reports: “Pacman accepts public apology”. This begins the tainting of Pacquiao’s name, which follows much more heatedly in the months to come, though nothing besides accusations from Mayweather’s camp will ever be produced to prove anything of the sort.

November 19, 2009. Immediately following Manny’s victory over Cotto, Mayweather speaks out. USA Today interviewed Floyd as saying the following:

“Tell Manny Pacquiao to be his own man and stop letting everyone, including his loudmouth trainer talk for him. I am my own boss, speak for myself and tell it like it is. If Manny Pacquiao wants to fight me, all he has to do is step up to the plate and say it himself.” (“Mayweather Calls Out Pacquiao; Talks on Fight Set to Begin”)

Later that month, Bernard Hopkins makes a prophetic statement to Ronnie Nathanielsz of BoxingScene.com…

“[Mayweather] will probably fight Mosley before he fights Pacquiao.”

This is in November, folks, before negotiations with Pacquiao ever even begin.

December 2009. A hectic month in the way of negotiations between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. A 60/40 offer has already been proposed by Floyd, rejected by Arum, and now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty…

December 2, 2009. Lance Pugmire of the LA Times reports that Arum is flying to the Philippines to discuss the details of the Floyd fight with Pacquiao, and to stay there through Manny’s general election. Before he lands in the Philippines, the word on the street is that Floyd has already agreed in principle to some of the contractual details from Top Rank.

December 4, 2009. Arum presents the proposal to Pacquiao. Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s manager, says Arum presented:

“What he thought was the best proposal he can bring to the table. […] Manny has some additional requirements, requests, which Arum didn’t think was a problem. The requests of Manny were so realistic that Arum doesn’t feel it’s a problem and it’s pretty much a done deal.” (“Pacquiao vs Mayweather, fight set for March, could be in Dallas”)

Keep in mind, the blood testing and drug use accusations are not out in the open as of yet. Manny has just reviewed the contract, agreed with minor tweaks, and Top Rank thinks it’s a done deal.

December 13, 2009. But wait, here’s where it gets interesting. A contract has been presented to Floyd, agreed to in principle, presented to Manny, and barring minor tweaks, it’s a done deal, right? Not so fast, fight fans.

Floyd’s father, who apologized though never took back his accusations that Manny has been using steroids in his last few fights, urges his son’s camp to revive the controversy. And they do. Mayweather’s representatives make a new demand: Both fighters must take Olympic Style Drug Testing during the training for their match, if they are to fight at all.

This is, it should be noted, a direct result of the newly un-estranged father, Floyd Sr., making a statement to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated after the Pacquiao/Cotto fight:

“I know Floyd is the best. But when [your opponent] uses something illegal, even the best can get hurt.” (“Talks of megafight heat up, with Floyd Sr. taking first jabs”)

The month wears on, but the mood shifts. More and more quotes and audio/video excerpts are put out into the court of public opinion, all with the same intention: Raise suspicion about whether Manny Pacquiao is a dirty fighter.

Regardless, the negotiations move forward, even though they have lost a head of steam over the course of a few weeks. Pacquiao does not like the idea of giving blood too close to the fight, as evidenced in a video from shortly after after Manny’s loss to Erik Morales, nearly five years before Floyd was ever a candidate. Pacquiao goes on-air a few days after that loss and claims he was weakened by a last minute blood test taken from him after the athletic commission had misplaced his original blood-work. (Video of Pacquiao on Filipino network, TFC)

Mud is now flying everywhere, and Pacquiao is deeply offended by a radio interview Floyd Jr. gave to RA the Rugged Man on Sirius channel Shade45, leaked from October 2009, just before the Cotto fight, where Floyd said:

“We all know the Philippines has the best enhancing drugs.” (Mp3 of Mayweather Interview with RA the Rugged Man on Shade45)

The fanfare and posturing eventually led to stalled negotiations. The two sides could not come to a compromise on this drug testing addendum.

December 22. Bob Arum says Manny will not have blood drawn any closer than 30 days away from the fight. Team Mayweather says this is no good. Arum says the fight is off.

December 24. An overlooked development surfaces but never grew legs. Keith Kizer, president of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, having seen the negotiations stall, offers to do the pre-fight testing, in an attempt to find a middle ground. Arum is interested:

“The commission has suggested it, and we’re very much in favor of it. We would love it. It’s something that is a positive development.” (“Mayweather-Pacquiao Talks Back On?”)

The idea is rejected by Team Mayweather.

Pacquiao wishes Mayweather a Merry Christmas in the form of a defamation lawsuit. Negotiations dwindle on the verge of death.

December 28. Natasha Aiello of 15rounds.com reports that word of an agreement regarding a weight penalty in the original contract has been tentatively reached. Team Pacquiao wanted Floyd to agree to pay $10M for every pound he comes in overweight. This is above and beyond the NSAC penalty, which demands 20% of the fighter’s purse for coming in overweight. Half goes to the opponent, the other half goes to the commission. Here’s the scoop at the time:

“Insiders say Golden Boy has tentatively agreed to use the tests enforced by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, but only if the NSAC standards are also adhered to in the weight clause, reducing the $10 million penalty per pound over from the contracts to $600 thousand per pound over. Roach has no problem with this, stating ‘I don’t care how much the penalty is. If Floyd shows up overweight, we won’t fight him.'” (“The latest inside the Pacquiao – Mayweather saga”)

January 5. The holidays come and go, but still no resolution. Both sides agree to mediation, to see if they can come to terms once and for all. They meet before Judge Daniel Weinstein, who has worked with Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank Promotions before, regarding a contract settlement for Manny Pacquiao himself. Manny eventually offers a 24 day cut-off for testing. Floyd says 14 days or no fight.

January 7. The mediation fails. Negotiations dead. Both parties walk away. Fight is off.

March 13. Pacquiao goes on to fight and beat Joshua Clottey by 12 round unanimous decision.

May 1. Mayweather goes on to fight and beat Shane Mosley by 12 round unanimous decision.

I am not going to chart the most recent “negotiations”, because they are even more bizarre than the first attempt, ranging from one side claiming everything was all but signed to the other side claiming there was no contract to begin with.

Will we ever see Floyd and Manny face off in the squared circle? I don’t know, but the word according to millionaire Robin Leach (yes, that Robin Leach) is that Floyd is now looking for another fight in 2010, in Abu Dhabi (a location Michael Koncz has been toying with for Pacquiao recently).

If there was a hat, and a rabbit, now would be a great time for a magician to pull one out of the other. If such a magician exists, I guarantee you all would be forgiven by both sides.

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