The Primrose Path to Pacquiao-Mayweather

By Nick Powers: It’s a road often traveled in the world of boxing: a match-up is talked about, excitement builds, both sides stand to financially benefit, yet the fight does not happen. Whether a super fight that fans clamor for, a logical unification between the two best established fighters in their respective division, or anything in-between, we in the boxing community are far too privy to such instances of deceit and disappointment.

To say that Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao has fallen apart for “one reason or another”, however, is decidedly inaccurate. Numerous hindrances in recent months that have put the biggest fight we may ever see in our lifetime in jeopardy of ever happening, let alone anytime soon..

Mayweather’s brilliant return in September 2009 after a 21 month layoff saw him school the man who has given current pound-for-pound king Pacquiao the most trouble in recent years; recognized lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez. In response, “Pac-Man” answered with a sensational 12th round TKO over Miguel Cotto in November 2009, winning the WBO Welterweight title in the process and becoming the only man to earn world championships in seven different weight classes. Almost immediately following Pacquiao’s victory, the wheels were set in motion for what was to be the biggest fight since 2007’s “The World Awaits” between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya.

Cue the drama.

No matter whose fault it was that the proposed March 13, 2010 match-up between the two best boxers in the world never came to fruition, the fact remained that it wasn’t happening. Time was of the essence as Pacquiao chose to run for congressman of the Philippines in May 2010, making it difficult to fathom the bout happening any later than the March date HBO had set aside. Some pointed to Pacquiao’s inability to comply with Mayweather’s Olympic style random drug testing demands, while others cited Floyd’s unwillingness to budge on the issue. Of the muddled excuses from both sides regarding what held up the fight, only one thing became clear: We weren’t going to see it.

Instead, Pacquiao opted to continue his steak of tough challenges by stepping into the ring on that same March date with tough, durable Ghanaian welterweight and former world champion Joshua Clottey at the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, TX. Rising to the occasion, Pacquiao threw well over 1,200 punches en route to a lopsided decision over Clottey, who it seemed was more in awe of “The Event” than focused on his chances of winning it.

Mayweather also chose to mix it up with a different dancing partner in the form of then WBA Welterweight champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley, who had openly challenged Mayweather in the ring following his decision victory over Marquez. The May 1 match-up proved exciting in the beginning as Mayweather took several big shots from Mosley, nearly getting knocked down in the second round, before recovering to put on a masterful performance before being awarded the unanimous decision victory.
Following the fighters’ respective victories, both in dominant fashion, it seemed improbable that the potential for the now proposed November 13, 2010 showdown would go gentle into that good night, especially after both Top Rank’s Bob Arum and Golden Boy Promotion’s Richard Schaefer made certain to keep negotiations behind closed doors to avoid media attention.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

The drug testing issue once again came into play, with Mayweather requesting no more than a 14 day cut-off period before the fight, while Pacquiao’s camp insisted that testing be finalized. Following Pacquiao’s agreement to Mayweather’s demands, however, rumors began to circulate that “Money” was beginning to live up to his moniker by insisting on a bigger split of the purse (a 50-50 deal had been seemingly agreed to by both sides in the past). Bob Arum, negotiating on the behalf of Pacquiao, set a deadline for Mayweather to accept the terms by July 17, but was met with no response. Signs pointed to a miscommunication between camps, perhaps even turbulence between Mayweather and Golden Boy Promotions, with whom he had a working fight-by-fight relationship. But no matter the circumstances, it became apparent that lightning had indeed struck this deal down twice.

The turmoil and ugliness was not over, however. Shortly after Pacquiao had agreed to return to Cowboys Stadium to fight Antonio Margarito on the November 13 date, Mayweather took things up a notch in a recorded rant as he broadcast live on the popular website Ustream. Amongst other things, he referred to Pacquiao as “Poochiao”, as well as “midget”, mentioned that he would “cook that little yellow chump”, and said that after disposing of him he would have Pacquiao “make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.”

Harsh criticism soon followed as members of the media and boxing community alike categorized Mayweather as a racist due to his seemingly anti-Asian remarks regarding Pacquiao. His father Floyd Mayweather, Sr., speaking with “On The Ropes” Boxing Radio on September 9, 2010 addressed the situation openly and candidly.

“He did nothing wrong. He ain’t said nothing wrong,” Mayweather told hostess Jenna J. “The whole thing is, you look on the internet and you will catch me on there. I was talking about him. I ain’t got no respect for him. I called him a bitch on there. He’s a little faggot whore. That’s what he is. You think I’m going to take that back? I said way more than he said.”
Shortly after Mayweather, Sr.’s comments aired, Mayweather, Jr. was arrested and booked on a charge of grand larceny related to an incident with Josie Harris, his ex-girlfriend and mother of two of his children. According to ESPN, Mayweather was alleged to have beaten Harris and stolen her cell phone, and was later released on $3,000 bail.

Mayweather is scheduled to appear in court on November 9 to face eight charges total, including one for misdemeanor domestic battery and three for harassment, which if convicted on all counts could land him in jail for up to 34 years, as reported by USA Today. The publication also makes note of Mayweather’s uncle and head trainer Roger Mayweather facing his own legal troubles just over two weeks beforehand, stemming from an incident where he reportedly punched and choked female boxer Melisssa St. Vil, whom he had previously trained.

With Mayweather’s pending legal troubles and Pacquiao’s upcoming fight and political obligations in the Philippines, all signs point to the mega-bout never taking place. However, should Mayweather avoid jail time just days before Pacquiao has the opportunity to add Margarito’s name to his ever-expanding resume, the doors re-open for both fighters and their teams to negotiate for a 2011 date. The bevy of media attention already given to the proposed match-up in the past, alongside recent national coverage of both men can only point to the fight being as big, if not bigger, than ever. As they say, the third time’s a charm, right?

“The intellect is always fooled by the heart.” - Francois de la Rochefoucauld

Article posted on 24.09.2010

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