So there you have it. According to ESPN and The Los Angeles Times, the fight everyone in boxing wanted to see — Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton — has fallen through, and the blame almost entirely goes to Pacquiao, who went back on his apparent commitment to a 50-50 split that both his promoter and trainer thought he should have taken… but that Pacquiao decided later should be a 60-40 or 55-45 split because of either his ego, his lawyer, some nebulous b.s. about firm negotiating stances or all of the above.
Is there a chance this comes back together? Of course. Don’t forget the fight between Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya fell through for a while before coming back to life. But both sides are already talking about moving on to their backup plans.
This is beyond disappointing, if it sticks. It would have been a fun fight, a huge event, a battle between the two biggest stars in boxing and as a consequence of all that, great for the sport. Pacquiao’s actions are indefensible. He comes off like a big baby who screwed himself and boxing fans, and I want to break down the myriad reasons why.
Being the best pound-for-pound fighter is no guarantee that you get the most money, nor should it be. It certainly deserves to be a factor, but so does who has a title belt (Hatton’s got the real lineal Ring magazine championship of the junior welterweight division [140 lbs.]) and most of all, who’s the biggest draw. If you need evidence that being the pound-for-pound king isn’t a guarantee that you get the biggest percentage of the revenues, I encourage you to look no further than Pacquiao’s last fight, where he took something like 33 percent of the revenues against a guy in De La Hoya that many didn’t even think was in the pound-for-pound top 20. Nor did Floyd Mayweather, Jr. get a 50-50 split with De La Hoya when Mayweather was pound-for-pound king.
It is not even clear that Pacquiao is the bigger draw. I could argue all day with Pacfans about whether that’s Pacquiao or Hatton here, and kind of did already. Pacquiao would have brought the Philippines revenue, the lion’s share of the U.S. pay-per-view dollars and probably around half the live gate. Hatton would have brought the U.K. and around half the live gate. To me, that all averages out to about a 50-50 split, especially because Pacquiao’s team was eager to get a slice of the huge U.K. ppv numbers Hatton brings. And the hugeness of that money pot is indisputable — Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum acknowledged it, and the Philippines press has reported that it’s a sizable sum. And if you think Arum wasn’t looking out for Pacquiao’s interests, is Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach, who also favored the 50-50 split, now a traitor, too?
Pacquiao went back on his word. He did quite the opposite of “establishing his credibility at the negotiating table.” Every party to the negotiations has either said that there was a verbal agreement to split things 50-50, or not denied it. If a 50-50 split wasn’t “disrespectful” to Pacquiao in December, why is suddenly so disrespectful in January? And going back on your word — that ain’t cool.Some in Pacquiao’s team have said anonymously that their decision to
insist on a better split would establish he has to be taken seriously
at the negotiating table. Instead, that very decision will more likely
lead people to believe that his word at the negotiating table is no
good. This attorney of his, Franklin Gacal, appeared to be the one who bamboozled Pacquiao into demanding more of the split, but ultimately, the decision went to Pacquiao and he’s the one who comes off as the flip-flopper.
Pacquiao wouldn’t have lost any respect for splitting 50-50, but he definitely will lose respect for pulling out of this fight. Some Pacfans have suggested that this is a Philippines thang, and that I wouldn’t understand. But I really don’t recall anyone in the Philippines complaining about the disrespect of the 50-50 offer until AFTER Pacquiao’s team went public with their new demands for a 60-40 split. On the other hand, a friend of mine who only follows boxing very casually just read the ESPN account of the fight falling through sent me an e-mail that read: “Pacquiao comes off like a real jackass over this.” So maybe Pacquiao will get more respect in the Philippines for agreeing to a 50-50 split, then backing out, then demanding a 60-40 split, then holding his ground. But I’d advise anyone who thinks Pacquiao comes out of this looking better to take a deep and broad look at the way columnists have criticized his behavior. People who support Pacquiao no matter what he says or does will continue to support and defend him. People who are Pacquiao fans but who don’t blindly defend Pacquiao’s every move, like myself, don’t have anything nice to say about this.
After going back on his word, Pacquiao refused to accept a compromise offer that would have given him a greater share of the revenues. Arum said he tried to up his percentage and his guarantee, but Pacquiao wouldn’t budge. If you ask me, 52-48 would have given Pacquiao the starring role in the fight that he apparently so desperately sought. But Pacquiao just planted and insisted this was about principle. The principle seems to be that even after getting a better split, it was still an insult unless things changed by another 3 percent. That doesn’t sound like any principle I know of.
Haggling over a revenue split doesn’t make for a juicier storyline for the fight. Trust me, had it been signed, from here to May 2, everyone would have been talking about Pacquiao-Hatton no matter what. Every statement Hatton, Pacquiao and their respective surrogates would have made would have gotten copious press. But now that it apparently isn’t going to happen, there’s no storyline at all.
Neither Pacquiao nor Hatton are likely to make more money against anyone else. Pacquiao’s backup opponent is reportedly Edwin Valero or Humberto Sot. Those are fights hardcore fans have wanted to see for a while, but it doesn’t do anywhere near the business Pacquiao-Hatton would. Pacquiao’s team has also said they would turn their attention to Mayweather, but again, that fight probably doesn’t make as much money for Pacquiao as would a Hatton fight. Hatton’s options include a rematch with Mayweather than doesn’t enthuse much of anyone, or a bout with De La Hoya that doesn’t enthuse much of anyone, or a bout with the winner of Juan Manuel Marquez-Juan Diaz that should enthuse everyone but that won’t make as much money as Hatton-Pacquiao.