Speaking out: If they can't make Mayweather-Pacquiao, why care about boxing?
"Mayweather can do three things that would kill this: 1) Insist on dictating the drug policy, 2) demand on making more than 50% of the purse, 3) show no interest in putting the fight in Texas," said the man, who shall remain anonymous because we were talking casually and he was not authorized to speak publicly about the looming second round of talks to stage boxing's Super Bowl.
Let me take a brief break from reporting on this issue objectively and ask the question that I know so many of you are wondering: Are you kidding me?
There is so much money available in making this fight, so much positive attention to bring to a sport that has suffered through punching-bag status at times and so many debates connected to the discussion of why this would be such a wonderful matchup, how can the boxers, promoters and managers blow this?
And if they do, how can we honestly be asked to give a damn about this sport?
When a great fighter, like Pacquiao, bursts on the scene as he did early last decade, aren't we projecting how he'll do at the height of his success against the best rival possible, like the unbeaten Mayweather (41-0)? If boxing shows it's incapable of rewarding the fans' investment in the career path, why invest?
That's the question that the boxers, promoters, managers and everyone else with a hand in making this fight should consider as negotiating point No. 1.
Drug testing? OK, Pacquiao got his feelings hurt when Mayweather's push for a strict drug-testing policy implied the Filipino had used performance-enhancing drugs. Pacquiao responded by suing Mayweather and his team for defamation. He should have just accepted the testing. The fear of blood excuse? Concern that a small blood draw in the immediate days before the bout would weaken him? Superstition? Not buying it, as much as I buy one large ego not wanting to allow another large ego to manipulate a situation.
As much as I doubt Mayweather is a genuine advocate of installing an anti-doping plan in boxing, it must be remembered his position is defended by history. A few years ago, an anonymous source showed me the doping calendar Shane Mosley used in preparing for his 2003 super-fight against Oscar De La Hoya. The doping cycle stopped three days before the fight. And Mosley won.
Pacquiao reportedly wrote on his blog Monday that he would now be willing to take a final pre-fight blood test 14 days before a Mayweather bout and again immediately after the bout. He's almost there.
After all, Mayweather agreed early in the first negotiations, which failed to produce a March 13 bout, to agree to a $10-million penalty if he weighed in 1 pound over the welterweight limit. One pound! That could have been a deal-breaking request by Pacquiao, too. It wasn't.
This isn't about taking sides.
Mayweather's camp has been stunningly resistant to the idea of making more money by staging the bout inside Cowboys Stadium, where a crowd of 110,000, with an average ticket price of $500, would generate a live gate of $55 million.
Richard Schaefer, the Golden Boy Promotions CEO, told me last week there was "just something about" placing the fight in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas that added to the excitement of an event, like "auto racing in Daytona, tennis at Wimbledon." He pointed to the fact that De La Hoya-Mayweather at MGM generated a record 2.4 million in pay-per-view buys in 2007.
Schaefer is loyal to MGM/Mirage, often placing Golden Boy fights, such as Saturday's Mayweather-Mosley bout, in the company's Las Vegas arenas. But this event trumps that arrangement, and even if you sold out MGM's 16,000 seats at an average ticket price of $1,000, Vegas could only produce a $16 million gate.
No way the added sell of a "Vegas fight" compensates for the lost live-gate riches in pay-per-view purchases.
Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, says he's all about "maximizing the economic revenue for everyone." That's why he wants both sides to explore the Texas offer fully. So Arum wants to work hard to make more money for Mayweather, his former fighter who shares a feeling of disdain? "Yes!" Arum shouted inside his Las Vegas office last week. "Of course!"
Mayweather is expected to ask for a purse split beyond the 50-50 split that was on the table in the first round of talks. This may be the easiest part of the negotiation. Mayweather finally showed his heart Saturday in rallying from a second-round beating to brilliantly stand in the middle of the ring and hammer Mosley while winning the last 10 rounds of the fight.
By comparison, Pacquiao's boring triumph over Joshua Clottey in March was like a non-televised undercard.
So, here's what has to happen: Pacquiao, give Mayweather the bigger cut. Schaefer/Mayweather, give Texas a tour. Respective state athletic commission, mandate the same U.S. Anti-Doping Agency testing routine Mayweather and Mosley just endured.
Make the deal. Make your millions.
If not, don't waste any more of our time.
-- Lance Pugmire
Photos: Floyd Mayweather Jr. after defeat Shane Mosley on Saturday. Manny Pacquiao after defeating Joshua Clottey in March. Credits: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press; Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images.