By Nick Tylwalk
The headline pretty much says it all. ESPN's Dan Rafael is reporting that Floyd Mayweather adviser Leonard Ellerbe and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer have both been told that Manny Pacquiao will not fight Mayweather next spring, with promoter Bob Arum preferring to put together a fourth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez.
Arum denied the specifics of the report but not the idea that Pacquiao-Marquez IV was a priority. And even as a big Pac-Man fan, one of partial Filipino descent, I have to say that there's no way that this doesn't make Pacquiao look bad.
In fact, the battle of public opinion has done almost a complete 180 since the potential Pacquiao-Mayweather mega-fight first nearly became a reality a few years ago. Then it was Mayweather who didn't seem committed to the bout, hiding behind his drug testing demands and stepping away from the sport altogether for almost a year and a half.
Now it's hard to fathom how anyone but the most hardcore Pac-Man fans don't look at this and see Manny as the one preventing it from happening. Coming off the extremely disputed win in his third fight with JMM, people are going to say that Pacquiao is scared because Mayweather can follow the same game plan as Marquez and defeat him easily. Even though I don't think that's the case, Arum and company aren't giving me any ammo to shoot that idea down.
Hopefully this is yet another negotiating tactic of some sort. Ellerbe actually said that Mayweather is willing to fight Pacquiao next, something I don't believe I've ever heard from them in those uncertain terms. This seems like a strange way to go about things if Arum is playing some sort of game with Team Mayweather, but this is boxing, so who knows?
Folks are probably going to point out to me that Pacquiao tends to defer to his promoter (in public anyway), so his culpability in disappointing his fans is limited when it comes to who he fights. With all due respect, that's total crap. Manny is the most famous boxer in the world, and one of the most powerful men in all of sports. If he went to Arum and said, "I want to fight Mayweather and no one else," that's what Bob would be working on.
If things go full speed ahead with Pacquiao-Marquez IV, the whole spring boxing situation threatens to become something of a farce. There's little reason to expect that a fourth go-round between Manny and JMM would be any more decisive than the first three. Meanwhile, Mayweather would need an opponent for May 5, so he could fight the comically small Erik Morales instead. That's not a dis to El Terrible, but unless he gets on Marquez's weight training program and has twice the results, he's going to look like a little kid next to Money May.
And yes, Mayweather's team has already said they aren't interested in a Morales fight. The thing is, they can fall back on that fight now and simply place the blame on Pacquiao for not stepping up, sidestepping the backlash that they would otherwise receive. Fantastic.
Rafael put it best when he got on Twitter after posting his story and saying that everyone he's talked to would rather see Pacquiao-Mayweather than Pacquiao-Marquez IV. I couldn't say it any better. The dirt hasn't officially been thrown on Manny and Floyd fighting, but the grave has been dug and the coffin is being lowered. If you're a boxing fan, you can't help but feel a little sad about that.
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