Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather and the Power of Leverage

| by Alex Groberman
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Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are the two biggest teases in boxing. There is no other way to describe them. After all, when you know exactly what the fans want, acknowledge that you know what they want, refuse to give it to them and then keep talking about it for years, that pretty much speaks for itself. And because they’re the two biggest teases in boxing, fans have sort of tuned out everything that they have or will say on the topic of a potential super fight.

On a substantive level – it makes sense. Everything these guys put out there regarding one another, in terms of what it means for the future, is worthless. Still, in a sport whose entertainment value is derived nearly as much from stuff that happens outside the ring as in it, Pacquiao and Mayweather taking shots at each other via the media is fun, if nothing else.

Recently, during an interview with Fight Hype, Mayweather spoke out on the topic of his Filipino rival.

"Now, you got Manny Pacquiao talking, 'I'm ready to take the [random] test now,’” Mayweather said. “Well, you could have taken the test a long time ago. Now, I feel like his career has declined.

"Now it's like 'Okay, I'll do whatever now so I can get the big payday. Now I'll do whatever I got to do now.'"

While that’s a pretty brutal assessment of the situation, it’s also entirely accurate. Pacquiao understanding that he’s on the decline and no longer commanding the attention he once did is precisely why he is going to be fighting Brandon Rios in Macao this November. And yes, it’s also why Pacquiao seems a lot more down to fight Mayweather now than vice versa.

"You had your time," Mayweather Jr. noted. "You had your time, and now Canelo [Alvarez] is in the spot. Canelo said 'I'll do whatever it takes,' so now we're fighting."

That is also true. However, there is still going to be life after this September’s meeting between Mayweather and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. And regardless of whether he wins or loses, few in boxing will offer Mayweather the sort of potential payday that Pacquiao can offer.

Mayweather knows this, obviously. What he’s doing now is akin to playing hard to get. He knows he possesses all of the leverage in his relationship with Pacquiao, and he wants to keep it that way. By playing off any interest in taking on his one-time equal, Mayweather ensures that their bout, when and if it goes down, will happen on his terms.