Floyd Mayweather Jr. has built an entire career for himself by being boxing’s villain. From the very start, he's always marched to the beat of his own drums, rarely took other people’s advice about the way he should handle himself, and never seemed to care what anyone else thought about him. At least that’s the impression he always gave fans.
As it turns out, though, maybe he does care what people think.
One week ago it was announced that HBO had officially gotten the rights to Mayweather’s looming May 5 showdown versus Miguel Cotto. The announcement wasn’t particularly surprising given Mayweather’s traditionally tight relationship with HBO as a whole, and it definitely wasn’t as big of a deal as when HBO later announced that it secured the rights to Manny Pacquiao’s June 9 bout versus Timothy Bradley.
Or so we thought.
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Courtesy of some great sleuth work from Sports by Brooks, however, everyone who collectively shrugged at Mayweather’s agreement with HBO may now have to go back and review the terms of the deal. Per Brooks’ report, Mayweather reportedly said that if HBO wanted the rights to his upcoming PPV, they’d have to muzzle Larry Merchant, the one guy from that roster who never has been and never will be afraid to stand up to the undefeated champion.
While in negotiations for the May 5 Mayweather fight, Mayweather instructed his representative Al Haymon to inform HBO’s Hershman that if the boxer was to fight on HBO in the future, Lampley and Merchant must surrender the right to discuss any and all of Mayweather’s affairs outside the ring on the HBO telecast. The ban would include any discussion of Mayweather’s management team.
Mayweather previously demanded the same ban during past fight negotiations with former longtime HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg but Greenburg never ceded any measure of editorial control of HBO’s own broadcasts to the boxer.
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Multiple sources have informed SbB that Hershman, who recently took over for Greenburg, has since agreed to Mayweather’s ban demand.
According to sources Hershman also later informed prominent boxing promoters Bob Arum and Gary Shaw of the on-air editorial concession HBO had granted Mayweather.
Additionally, Hershman agreed to surrender the right of Lampley and Merchant to discuss any outside-the-ring affairs of other fighters repped by Haymon.
Now, for what it’s worth, Haymon is (or at least his people are) currently claiming that these charges aren't true. In fact, when SbB contacted him, Haymon's people vehemently denied that any such deal with Hershman had been made.
When contacted Thursday and told that Hershman and HBO had agreed to ban Lampley and Merchant from discussing Mayweather’s affairs outside the ring and the fighter’s management team - along with a similar policy for other Haymon-repped fighters - an HBO Spokesman told SbB, “that’s completely untrue. That didn’t happen.”
Could SbB’s sources be wrong about this? Sure. But could Haymon's people simply be denying something that’s true because it could hurt their guy’s image? Absolutely.
Mayweather is a rebel and that’s part of the way the public sees him. Everyone is O.K. with him in that role. Trying to silence folks, though, that’s a whole different can of worms that not even Mayweather with his “I don’t care what anyone says about me" attitude wants to open.
Be who you are and the public will either love you or hate you. Try to force people to do something in order to present a certain image of who you are, and people will definitely hate you.
Did Mayweather attempt to silence Merchant as part of his deal with HBO? We’ll find out for sure on the eve of May 5.