Yes, yes, we’re all sick of hearing about the negotiations for Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao, the biggest and most meaningful fight in decades that has been talked about and talked about and hasn’t happened. But when one side rather prominently declares the terms of the fight have been agreed to and all that awaits is for the other side to give a final sign-off, it demands some attention.
Ah, but there’s that asterisk in the headline, isn’t there? Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum is notorious for his lies-manship, and he’s the one who said Wednesday that all that awaits is whether Mayweather wants to fight in 2010 or 2011.
On the surface, it all sounds rather innocent. Arum isn’t badmouthing Mayweather about this. Mayweather has said in recent months that he might want to take some time off from boxing, a year or what have you. Arum’s quotes — to Yahoo’s Kevin Iole, subsequently followed up upon by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix — are downright hospitable.
“I think the only question is whether Mayweather is prepared to fight now,” Arum said. “He may say he’s had his fight for the year and that’s it and that we’ll address it again next year. He might say that. I don’t know. I don’t know. But that’s what I’m hypothesizing.
“The question is whether Mayweather is willing to go into the ring this year. It’s up to him. His people would love him to do it. He may not want to do it. If Mayweather wants to fight in November, I believe the fight will be made. To me it seems – it seems, and say that, because I’m not Mayweather – that the only issue is whether he wants to fight in November.”
He’s not calling Mayweather a coward or insulting him like he usually does, you see. He said the same deal could be in place for Mayweather-Pacquiao in May of next year, with Pacquiao likely moving up from welter to junior middle in November to fight Miguel Cotto or Antonio Margarito while he waits.
There are additional details that speak positively to the likelihood of this being a true statement from Arum. Iole notes that Arum is “believed to” have been talking with Al Haymon, the Mayweather adviser with whom Arum’s had a miserable relationship. That’s positive. Interesting that Iole used that language, though, as he’d spoken to Arum prior to publishing. Another positive is that Iole was the most reliable chronicler of the earlier set of Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations, and it doesn’t strike me as incredibly likely that he’d publish this credulous account if he thought Arum was selling him a bill of goods.
And yet, there are also aspects of this that make you worry. There’s the Arum penchant for unrepentant lying. It’s Arum’s first nature to lie, then his second nature to tell the truth. And he doesn’t even pretend like he cares whether he will lie and then tell the truth from one sentence to the next. For instance — on June 23, this is what Bob Arum said about the goofy-ass WBC “silver belt” that middleweights Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. and John Duddy would be fighting for:
“A lot of people say, ‘What the hell is the WBC Silver belt?’” said Bob Arum from the stage on Wednesday. “The winner becomes the WBC mandatory challenger, so it has great significance.”
On June 25, Dan Rafael published a piece about Arum’s thoughts on the silver belt:
“It’s a joke. I know it’s a joke, you know it’s a joke, the fans know it’s a joke,” Arum told me the other day. [emphasis mine]
So I asked him why he would allow it to be part of his promotion at all.
“Hey, it doesn’t cost me anything,” he said, although he acknowledged it would actually cost him “a few thousand dollars.”
“I’m not promoting the silver belt,” Arum continued. “I’m promoting Chavez and Duddy. You don’t hear me announcing the silver belt nonsense from the rafters do you? It doesn’t bother me, but I’m not a phony that I’m going to promote it like it means something. That’s the difference. I’m not using it as part of the promotion because I don’t believe in it. I don’t even know what the f— it is.”
So, there you go.
There is no comment from the Golden Boy Promotions/Mayweather side, because with but one blooper-like exception I can think of, that side has (at least publicly) honored the gag order about fight negotiations, while Pacquiao, Arum, trainer Freddie Roach and everyone else under the sun have jibber-jabbered to the point that if this were a court gag order, all of them would be serving life sentences. That means that Golden Boy might dispute Arum’s contention that money, drug testing etc. have been agreed upon.
If you’re looking for ulterior motives, you could surmise that Arum is trying to set up Mayweather as the person who kept the fight from happening, which would allow Arum to put Pacquiao in with someone from his own promotional stable, an incestuous habit he’s indulging in these days with alarming regularity. And Roach’s recent remarks — about “calling Mayweather’s bluff” and such — feel like the warm-up for just such an ulterior motive-driven campaign.
Me, I’m not optimistic about this fight happening and I won’t believe it’s happening until the day Mayweather and Pacquiao step into the ring. That may not match the available evidence, but this fight has been too close to happening before for me to get my hopes up when lie-y Arum says it’s close, even if he sounds less lie-y than he usually does.
I’ll say this, though: If Arum’s telling the truth, Mayweather HAS to take the fight in 2010. There’s been so much discussion about Pacquiao stepping away from boxing for good after November that the backup scenario about the fight happening in 2011 is too worrisome for my tastes. There’s no need for Mayweather to rest or any such thing. He’s had one fight a year in two years after a nearly two-year break. There’s nothing more important for him to be doing in November.
And if Arum’s lying, shame on him. Not that he’s capable of the human emotion known as shame, mind you. It’s like lecturing a robot for drilling a screw into a factory worker instead of a car door.
We’ll probably find out what’s what soon enough. Arum and crew have said they won’t wait on Mayweather beyond the middle of July to decide, because they want a three-month window to promoter whatever fight Pacquiao takes next. I can’t say I’ll be sitting on the edge of my seat awaiting the verdict — that sounds like a recipe for disappointment when I expect my most likely reaction by the middle of July to be disgust that Mayweather-Pacquiao got away again and we ended up with a putrid Pacquiao-Cotto do-over or Pacquiao-Margarito debacle.