By Jason Keidel
Let us dissect the nth iteration of the Manny – Mayweather contract squabble.
Unlike other versions of boxing’s Hatfields and McCoys, the differences and deferences are clearer than ever.
By every account, Manny Pacquiao has agreed to every nuance of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s demands, including rampant PED testing, a smaller share of the epic purse, and a lower perch on the glittering marquee. So it is now Mayweather’s turn to squirm under the abject scrutiny of the sport that made him the highest-paid athlete on the planet.
And, for the first time, Mayweather’s rabid fan base is either shrinking or leaking some of its loyalty. Especially now that no one in Mayweather’s camp can poke a finger through some loophole in the negotiations.
A group from the United Arab Emirates offered the fighters a total of $120 million, but pulled out when they couldn’t get a response from Mayweather. No one is crying over the failed deal, since America has always been the most logical location for the bout in general, and Las Vegas in particular. Not only does Sin City have the inherent money and madness to host the mega fight, but it’s also Mayweather’s home.
The boxing cognoscenti didn’t feel much fervor for Mayweather – Maidana II, and the soporific sequel reinforced the sense that the undefeated champion is too glued to the zero on his record. Top Rank and Pacquiao have agreed and acquiesced to everything, including the May 2 date – which has always been a mainstay in the Mayweather calendar – according to Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter.
Most experts think the loquacious champion will defeat the Filipino icon, so Mayweather’s reticence to sign the mammoth deal is confusing, at minimum. Yahoo! Sports broke the story, but has been unable to reach Mayweather for comment or compliance.
Word is that Pac Man has agreed to a 40 percent cut of the revenue, which means Mayweather gets 60 percent of probably the largest purse in boxing history. By all accounts, the fight would break the record of 2.4 million PPV buys, set by Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. Experts also predict that Manny-Mayweather would obliterate the gross PPV record of $150 million and gate record of $20 million, both set by Mayweather-Alvarez in 2013.
Mayweather is a pristine 47-0, while Pacquaio is a far more cluttered 57-5-2, with an ugly knockout loss to arch rival Juan Manuel Marquez .
Even the dueling cable entities that represent Mayweather and Pacquiao – who are with Showtime and HBO, respectively – have promised that they can work together to deliver the one fight that still has a hold on the world’s soul.
Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza has assured us that Mayweather wants to fight the Filipino congressman more than ever. Espinoza also confirmed reports that the two cable behemoths would work together to televise the bout. According to Yahoo! the fight would make Mayweather around $120 million, while Pacquiao would bank about $80 million. The fight would not only be the most lucrative, but also the most expensive. Projections put the cost per PPV consumer at around $90.
But all the number-crunching aside, perhaps the most important stats are chronological. Both fighters are perilously close to retirement, with Mayweather turning 38 in February, and Pacquiao entering the ring this spring at 36.
And we have the rare unanimity among the illuminati. Not even Floyd Mayweather Jr. disputes that the ball, gloves, and cash are in his court. The only thing keeping the combatants from consummating the deal is his signature.
If he wants to uphold his heft and “Money” handle, Mayweather has to take this fight. For years, he’s told us his singular goal is to give fans of the sweet science the fights they covet. If he doesn’t, you can add another layer to his myriad monikers: disingenuous.
Jason writes a weekly column for CBS Local Sports. He is a native New Yorker, sans the elitist sensibilities, and believes there’s a world west of the Hudson River. A Yankees devotee and Steelers groupie, he has been scouring the forest of fertile NYC sports sections since the 1970s. He has written over 500 columns for WFAN/CBS NY, and also worked as a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated and Newsday subsidiary amNew York. He made his bones as a boxing writer, occasionally covering fights in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, but mostly inside Madison Square Garden.