Perhaps they’ll surprise us and announce this week that our long, national nightmare is finally over, and that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will fight each other May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
Don’t bet anything too valuable on it, however, because you’ll likely be disappointed.
At a time when the talks to finalize the bout that the sports world has demanded for more than five years should be in their most sensitive stage, Mayweather was instead negotiating the terms of a couple of public appearances in Australia.
As talks drag on, the fate of a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout rests on Floyd. (AFP)
Though he was ultimately denied a visa to enter the country by Australian immigration authorities because of his history of domestic violence, Mayweather was demanding an unlimited supply of gummy bears, M&M’s and Cristal Champagne, a barber available on demand, as well as a butler, chef, makeup artist and a woman’s hairdresser in return for appearing at gala dinners in Sydney and Melbourne.
So it sure doesn’t seem Mayweather feels any particular sense of urgency to get the fight done, despite his late-night trip to Pacquiao’s Miami hotel suite last month
If Mayweather wanted it done, it would be done. On the few occasions he chooses to speak publicly about the talks, he routinely mentions he’s the more powerful A-side in the talks.
That unquestionably is true.
But then he’ll bring up the nonsense that he repeatedly spews – which his fans repeat like clapping seals – that he’s the boss and Pacquiao is simply an employee of Top Rank.
The insinuation is that it’s tougher to make the fight because Pacquiao doesn’t run his own promotional company, though clearly that has nothing to do with making the fight.
Let’s be honest, though: If Mayweather truly were the boss, it would be his adviser, Al Haymon, who would be getting punched in the face.
But it’s Haymon, boxing’s most powerful man, who is making his millions by negotiating from the safety of a boardroom while Mayweather earns his dough by putting on gloves and stepping into the ring to fight men intent on harming him.
In that light, it’s pretty clear who the boss is.
But as the unquestioned A-side, it should be easy for Mayweather to bring these talks to a conclusion.
All he needs to do is create a term sheet with the major points, most of which the sides have reportedly agreed upon:
• The financial split between the fighters.
• The date and venue of the fight, and the price of tickets.
• Details of how the fight will be promoted, including the dates of any press conferences and press tours.
• The type of gloves each man will wear.
• The order in which the fighters will walk to the ring and be introduced before the fight.
Once those points are written out, all Mayweather has to do is sign it and send it to Pacquiao and Top Rank.
At that point, the onus shifts to Pacquiao to accept the terms. Then, either the fight will finally be signed or each of them will move on to other opponents.
There is nothing to suggest, though, that Mayweather is going to do that. He’s going to make everyone wait.
Because he can.
Sports fans, not just boxing fans, know Mayweather and Pacquiao. But there are precious few boxers the general public has even heard of, let alone recognize.
Boxing promoters have done a horrible job of creating new stars over the last quarter of a century. They’re quick to blame others for their own failings, yet even as they see fans abandoning the game, they don’t change.
Manny Pacquiao has repeatedly said he wants to fight Mayweather. (AP)
Haymon’s forthcoming series on NBC that will include some of the sport’s biggest stars competing against each other in prime time is at least an attempt to change that dynamic and do something to correct the many problems that plague boxing in the U.S.
But as he does it, the establishment blasts Haymon and smugly predicts he’ll lose his investors’ money. Perhaps he will, but the promoters who are looking down their noses at him are the same ones who have driven this business into the gutter in the last 25 years.
They’re the ones who scared away the television networks.
They’re the ones who refused to regularly pit the best against the best.
They’re the ones who didn’t promote, didn’t market, didn’t brand, and simply looked for a casino to pay them a few bucks to stage a fight.
Mayweather has actually taken the time to brand himself. He’s built his business in a remarkably shrewd manner, and he knows how to market himself.
He announced his fight with Marcos Maidana last year on Shots, a social media tool that allows users to post selfies online.
And so, knowing fans are desperate for news of a deal for a Pacquiao fight, Mayweather has consistently sent his 5.5 million followers on Twitter to his Shots account for all manner of announcements.
Not surprisingly, there is a method to his madness. According to a 2014 story in Fortune, Mayweather invested $1 million in the service.
His brilliance in the ring has helped him immeasurably, but he wouldn’t be anywhere near the kind of star he is without the rabid fan base he’s cultivated so shrewdly over the last eight or nine years.
By making himself into the unquestioned biggest star in boxing, he has earned the right to make demands.
But we’re far beyond the demand-making stage. It’s been more than five years since talks aimed at making a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight first began.
Mayweather-Pacquiao talk has the sport by the throat and is crushing the life out of the rest of it.
Of course, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum’s maddening inconsistencies and credulity-stretching statements are an impediment to finalizing a deal.
Arum, the 83-year-old CEO of Top Rank, appears to be cracking under the pressure of attempting to put together what could be the richest fight in history.
One day he’ll say there is no deadline for a deal to get done and the very next day, he imposes one. Last week, he told the Associated Press that all television issues had been resolved. Less than 15 minutes after his words hit the Internet, representatives from the television networks on both sides of the talks were insisting that wasn’t true.
For all of his lunacy, though, Arum isn’t the real obstacle. He’s insignificant in the bigger picture because Pacquiao has repeatedly said he wants the fight. It would be hard, if not impossible, for Arum to block the fight at this point if he wanted to.
Arum, though, is aware of the reaction if the fight isn’t made. His legacy will be tarnished and his business will be harmed immeasurably.
This delay isn’t about Arum. This is about Mayweather.
If Mayweather says yes on Tuesday, there is a fight. If he says yes on Wednesday or Thursday or Friday or Saturday, there is a fight. Whenever he gives the thumbs up, the deal will be done and the fight will be on.
It doesn’t make sense that it’s taken this long to reach a deal.
It’s not that hard.
Mayweather has made you wait five years, and he’s not above making you wait a few weeks longer, though.
So settle in. This thing isn’t over by a long shot.
Horror of horrors, there could still be two or three weeks to go.