By all accounts Manny Pacquiao is either the No. 1 or No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. According to him, he desperately wants to fight the other guy who is either the No. 1 or No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world – Floyd Mayweather Jr. And, of course, the undefeated Mayweather has said that he feels the same exact way.
Yet, for whatever reason, this fight coming to fruition feels like it is becoming increasingly less likely with each passing day.
The perverse, corrupt nature of boxing has long-since been recognized as the reason for the sport’s slow but undeniable decline in popularity over the years. Sure the big name fights still generate buzz and huge revenue streams but, by and large, interest in 90 percent of the fighters and 95 percent of the fights that occur every year is continuously dwindling.
And that corrupt, money-grubbing attitude is on full display in the here and now as the general public tries to grasp why a fight that both fighters seemingly want to make happen can’t happen.
Pacquiao promoter and Top Rank boss Bob Arum has played a pretty nifty game over the past two years. In the court of public perception he has played his Filipino superstar and his undefeated arch rival against one another – leaving the fans of each respective fighter to do battle over meaningless, irrelevant distractions like performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and money. The truth is, of course, had Arum ever truly been behind the prospect of a potential super fight between Pacquiao Mayweather, those minor speed bumps would have been resolved as soon as they arose.
At some point after their bouts versus Victor Ortiz and Juan Manuel Marquez in September and November of 2011, Mayweather and Pacquiao realized how empty their latest victories were in the eyes of boxing fans. They realized that these fruitless, pointless match-ups against no-names and past-their-prime superstars -- while intriguing enough to generate tons of pay-per-view (PPV) dollars -- simply wouldn’t boost either one of their legacies. And with that in mind, they began to make strides towards putting a highly anticipated match against one another together.
Progress looked like it was being made with each passing day and, at one point, Pacquiao even said that they were “80 to 90 percent” there as far as making a fight happen. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, Mayweather’s 90-day jail sentence came down like a hammer and seemingly ended any and all shot of a showdown between the two men occuring at any point before November of this year.
The postponement of Mayweather’s sentence last week changed all that. Suddenly he was free and clear to fight Pacquiao in May once again. Only for some reason, Arum opted to throw down the gauntlet at the precise moment when everyone got their hopes up. The fight wouldn’t happen, he said. Why? There were a couple of reasons (read: lies), apparently. For one thing, Pacquiao now had a slow-healing cut that suddenly became an issue when Mayweather’s sentence got postponed. It wasn’t an issue when Pacquiao was supposed to fight Timothy Bradley, Lamont Peterson or Juan Manuel Marquez, but it was now. The other problem was that Arum felt as though MGM was too small a venue to host a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather showdown and that they’d supposedly be leaving money on the table if they had it there.
Both excuses are nonsense, of course, and the public quickly saw through Arum’s manipulative games.
He doesn’t want this fight to happen because a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather dream match hurts his bottom line. First, it means he only gets to profit off one fighter as opposed to the two he’d profit off of if Pacquiao fought Bradley or another Top Rank-affiliated boxer. Two, if Pacquiao loses his market value for future fights plummets – meaning Arum’s commission for future fights plummets.
So you see, it’s more beneficial for Arum to postpone this super fight indefinitely than it is for him to actually make it happen.
That means the onus is now on Pacquiao to make it happen. If he really wants to, that is.
During an interview with PhilBoxingtoday, here is what Pacquiao had to say on the matter:
“I‘ve said this over and over before and I’m saying this again, I want Floyd Mayweather Jr. to be my next opponent and I haven’t changed my choice despite recent development…I am meeting with my promoter, Bob Arum on Tuesday and I will insist that the fight with Mayweather be given the preference than the four others in the list I will fight next...”
Arum works for Pacquiao, not the other way around. If the Filipino champion truly wants to face off against his undefeated counterpart once and for all, he has the power to do it. He certainly doesn’t have to bend to his promoter’s wishes.
Again, if Pacquiao truly wants this fight to happen as he says he does, he can. But if he doesn’t, hiding behind Arum’s undeniable shadiness and then playing innocent is probably the worst thing he could do right now.
Either way, we'll get our answer as to what's what soon enough.