Boxing Sports

Boxing: Can The Mayweather-Pacquiao Hype Finally Turn To Substance? UPDATE


UPDATE: 02/21/15

After years of drama, hype, bad blood, and anticipation the saga between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will finally end on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The negotiations ended on Thursday and Mayweather made the official announcement via his Shots social media account earlier Friday evening. The fight will be a joint Pay-Per-View broadcast between HBO and Showtime.

While not all the details of the fight are know these are major ones:

The fight will be set for the 147 lb. welterweight limit. Both Mayweather’s World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council titles along with Pacquiao’s World Boxing Organization title will be on the line. The purse split will be 60/40 in favor of Mayweather. Both fighters will be able to wear their own gloves. Drug testing will be conducted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency as has been customary for Mayweather bouts.

For the networks it’s a bit murkier. Most of the major details when it came to personnel were reportedly already worked out earlier in the negotiations although not confirmed in the media call for the bout. As reported by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joining HBO’s Jim Lampley and Showtime’s Al Bernstein in calling the bout as color commentator is HBO’s Roy Jones Jr. Joining James Brown of CBS, the parent network of Showtime, as host for the pre-fight show will be Showtime’s Paulie Malignaggi. Other details such as who will be the ring announcer and unofficial scorer are still unknown. What is also unknown is the price that the PPV broadcast will cost although it is expected to be as high as $100 dollars.

Two factors proved to be pivotal in making this fight. The first was that CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves personally stepped in to serve as mediator between Mayweather’s advisor Al Haymon and Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum. Both men have respect for Moonves and it served to help thaw their cold relationship, even if it’s just temporarily. The second, and likely the most important, is that Mayweather and Pacquiao met face to face for the first time. That allowed both men to see that the desire to make this fight was mutual and made the path to Friday’s announcement much easier.

To say that this will be a big even is an understatement. According to Dan Rafael of ESPN the fight could generate a gross purse as high as $400 million. That does not take into account the revenue generated by other Las Vegas hotels showing the bout via closed circuit television or possible live showing of the bout in movie theatres.

Stay tuned to The Inscriber as we will give you in-depth analysis, the timeline, and predictions on the biggest boxing event in over 30 years.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

Over the last six years the boxing world has been trapped in anticipation over a potential fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, the two best fighters of their generation. In that time the talk surrounding the potential matchup was relegated to simply being hype. Then this year something changed.

The talks became serious.

What may have turned the tide for this may be public unrest. Both boxing media and fans have reached the point with both Mayweather and Pacquiao that no other fight is acceptable for each man. That is different from years past when there were options available even as boxing has embroiled in its’ ‘Cold War’ between the sport’s two biggest promotional companies, Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank Promotions.

Now with the ‘Cold War’ thawing the prospect of the fight has grown into legitimate yet sensitive negotiations between all parties involved. One aspect which complicates matters is that there are two separate negotiations for this fight. One is between the fighter camps and another between the cable networks HBO, who have Pacquiao under contract, and Showtime, who have Mayweather under contract.

The details in the negotiations between the Mayweather camp and the Pacquiao camp are seldom known to the public other than what was assumed before they began. The fight is to be held at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas on May 2, the closest Saturday to the Mexican Cinco de Mayo holiday. Mayweather has made it a custom to fight in May and in September around the Mexican independence day weekend. The purse split is assumed to be 60/40 in favor of Mayweather. While the process has been mired in secrecy it feels like both fighters are increasingly being personally involved.

The rumor mill picked up rapidly when the two met face to face for the first time during halftime at the January 27 NBA game between the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks in Miami. Mayweather is an avid NBA fan who regularly attends games while Pacquaio, also a big basketball fan, was still in the city after judging the Miss Universe pageant. He would’ve been in New York City at that time according to his advisor Michael Koncz if not for the airports in the New York area being closed due to a massive blizzard. The faceoff in which both men exchanged cell numbers along with news that they met for over an hour in Pacquiao’s hotel room exploded on social media. Speculation that the meeting was staged in anticipation of an announcement of the fight during Super Bowl 49 peaked when TMZ reported prematurely that the deal was done on January 30.

When it comes to the negotiations between the networks there is at least a template they can work from. HBO & Showtime worked together on a joint Pay-Per-View broadcast before, the 2002 heavyweight bout between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson. With the circumstances for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight being different the details have to be worked but they are known to the public and are more concrete.

On February 5 Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times reported that the networks have agreed to most of the main personnel assignments for the bout. The fight would have an official host in CBS’s James Brown, who also hosts ‘The NFL Today’ for the network. CBS is the parent network of Showtime. The play-by-play call would be done by HBO’s Jim Lampley with the lead analyst being Showtime’s Al Bernstein. Fighter interviews would be done by both HBO’s Max Kellerman and Showtime’s Jim Gray.

One big detail that the networks have yet to work out is how replay rights for the bout would be handled. In the Lewis-Tyson bout it was agreed that the network whom the winner was signed to would have sole rights to the replay. Showtime would like the same agreement for Mayweather-Pacquiao but HBO is suggesting both networks do the replay at the same time.

Taking all this into account it would appear that the fight is close to being made soon. However there are factors that could still derail any chance of the bout happening.

One of these factors is the availability of World Boxing Council middleweight champion Miguel Cotto. It was believed that Cotto was heading to a big payday in a fight against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez but negotiations stalled to the point that Alvarez’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, walked away from the table. Once news broke that the Canelo-Cotto fight was not happening speculation began that Cotto wasn’t negotiating in good faith as he knew that he may have an even bigger payday lined up. That payday would be a rematch with Mayweather. Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza has even admitted to Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News on February 6 that Cotto is the backup plan should negotiations for Mayweather-Pacquiao fall apart along with Amir Khan.

Both Mayweather and Khan are managed by the same man, Al Haymon.

Another factor that could derail negotiations is the public behavior of Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum. Known for making outlandish statements, Arum has made negotiations difficult by doing just that. From stating that the fight would be imminent to telling the Associated Press on February 5 that HBO & Showtime have come to terms, a report that was quickly denied by both sides, Arum has angered nearly all involved in the negotiations according to a report from Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports published the same day. The report also had sources stating that Arum would be solely to blame for the fight not happening. Arum has for years held animosity towards Haymon for influencing Mayweather to leave Top Rank in a bitter 2006 breakup. That animosity has not faded with time and it has caused some in the boxing community to believe that Arum is more interested in putting both men in a corner than making a Mayweather-Pacquiao bout in good faith.

While this has made the situation fluid it has also shown what making this fight would bring in. The way in which the news of the meeting between Mayweather and Pacquiao was digested by the general public and mainstream sports media points to how lucrative the bout can be not just among hardcore boxing fans, but casual fans.

This also points to the peril of this fight not happening.

The specter of Mayweather-Pacquiao being only a dream along with the decline on American heavyweights and the ‘Cold War’ have turned off the casual fan and turned boxing into a niche sport. It has stifled the growth of fighters that could become superstars and relegated fight cards to being held mostly in casinos. The sport needs an event like Mayweather-Pacquiao to bring back those jilted fans and to close out their era.

The risk of having those very fans be this close to biting the apple and taking it away at the last minute is huge. If the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight does not happen, that decision should be treated for what it is, the ultimate indictment of boxing fully becoming a business. To have a fight that fans, media, and seemingly the two fighters themselves want be denied because of a promoter’s personal vendetta or the greed of cable networks would further drive away the sport from the mainstream.

Sadly, with each passing day there is still a good chance of that scenario happening

 


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