Mayweather ensures Pacquiao negotiations descend into farce
Floyd Mayweather said his advisor was never involved in Manny Pacquiao talks
HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg denied that statement from Mayweather
Many are simply afraid of crossing Mayweather because he's such a financial force
Floyd Mayweather is a bully, one neatly wrapped in a cut 5-foot-8, 147-pound package. Like most bullies, Mayweather is intimidating. He sends promoters, managers and networks cowering in the corner with the mere threat of withholding his services. He holds the boxing world hostage by saying he will take his gloves and go home unless the fight isn't when he wants, where he wants and at what weight he wants. He perpetuates a lie -- like the one about his advisor, Al Haymon, not being involved in negotiations with Manny Pacquiao -- because he is confident in the fact that no one in the industry will stand up to him.
Well, someone finally did. Late Monday night, HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg -- the man in the middle of this mess -- issued a statement. In the statement, Greenburg confirmed what everyone in the world already knew. Yes, there had been negotiations. No, there will not be a fight between the two biggest names in the sport this year.
"Fights like Mayweather vs. Pacquiao are significant because of these fighters' ability to connect with sports fans around the world," said Greenburg. "It's unfortunate that it won't happen in 2010. I had been negotiating with a representative from each side since May 2, carefully trying to put the fight together. Hopefully, someday this fight will happen. Sports fans deserve it."
Mayweather's team issued a series of swift denials. But it is preposterous to suggest that Haymon, Mayweather's chief negotiator and the man Mayweather praises for his work at every ... single ... press conference would be involved in any kind of talks for a Mayweather fight without Mayweather's express approval. Greenburg has no reason to lie. Haymon has a large stable of clients that include Andre Berto, Paul Williams and Chris Arreola. But Mayweather is Haymon's golden goose. He brings home the biggest paycheck. And to believe Haymon pretended to speak on Mayweather's behalf for two months -- two months -- strains credulity to Avatar-like levels.
It didn't happen. Mayweather knew exactly what Haymon was doing, just like Leonard Ellerbe and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer did. Ellerbe is Mayweather's mouthpiece. He's a good man, one well-liked in the industry. But as sycophants come, he may be the definition. He parrots everything Floyd says -- "All roads lead to Floyd Mayweather" -- to the point where it almost doesn't matter who says it. The words are the same; the voices are just different.
Schaefer's stance is even more baffling. Schaefer, too, is well-respected in the industry and has advanced boxing as much as anyone with his innovative marketing strategies. But by backing Mayweather and denying any negotiations took place, he not only is calling his boss Oscar De La Hoya a liar -- De La Hoya, remember, went on Univision last month and said the Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations were "very close" to being completed -- but he's calling every journalist he has spoken to on the subject a liar, too.
Sure, Schaefer has offered a firm "no comment" when asked about negotiations, but his words have been laced with hints that there was indeed something to comment on. Earlier this month, after Arum told SI.com that a deal had been struck, I called Schaefer looking for confirmation. Again, he said he had no comment. But he later announced, somewhat triumphantly, that I should tell Arum that he had "won the shut-up contest."
Shut up about what, exactly? Right.
The truth is Schaefer and Golden Boy have attached themselves to Mayweather because his affiliation with the company is one of the few assets keeping it viable. Click on the fighters page on Golden Boy's website and check out the four faces highlighted at the top. De La Hoya is gone, Bernard Hopkins should be and Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez are one bad loss away from potentially following them out the door.
They have a heavyweight champion (David Haye) who won't fight anybody. They have a former middleweight champion (Winky Wright) who won't either. There is talent at junior welterweight (Marcos Maidana, Victor Ortiz, Amir Khan) but not enough to carry the company. No, Golden Boy needs Mayweather and to cross him would burn a very lucrative bridge. And they are not going to do it.
Meanwhile, Mayweather sits back, content to amuse himself by working Ellerbe and Schaefer like puppets. He's comforted by the $65 million he earned in his past two fights, the kind of cash that reinforces the fantasy that he's the G.O.A.T ... when the reality is that he has yet to even prove he is the greatest of this time. He had a chance to cement that legacy this year by following up a win over Mosley with another over Pacquiao.
But like it was with LeBron James, it wasn't so much the decision as how the decision was delivered. Coldly, and littered with a whole lot of lies.
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