Enjoy Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao when you see it — if you see it, given the $100 pay-per-view price — because there is only one reason to see it again. And while money is a very good reason, it only takes one side, presumably the winner’s, to decide it isn’t good enough, which historically is the case in a fight at this level, with this level of acrimony, that takes this long to make.
There are others to consider. There always are.
The most Floyd Mayweather Sr. made in his professional boxing career was $12,500 for fighting up-and-comer Sugar Ray Leonard in 1978. The most Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach made for a pro fight was $7,500, against Hector “Macho” Camacho in 1985. They became well-heeled trainers, but as fighters, they left boxing with not much more than when they started.
Roach said this week that he would advise Pacquiao to retire if the boxing superstar from the Philippines dethrones the unbeaten Mayweather on May 2. But he also envisions a good fight leading to an immediate rematch in September, for the same reason so many do.
“A hundred million dollars,” Roach said, a reference to one of the more modest projections of Pacquiao’s take next week. “The thing is, you’ve got to secure your family for a long period of time. When it ends, the paychecks stop coming, so we’ve got to make as much as we can to take care of our families and stuff like that.”
So there always is the possibility that the obvious reason for a rematch trumps all the reasons there may not be one — and they are bountiful:
The winner may not want it
Roach said he will advise Pacquiao to retire with a victory. Mayweather said he will not fight beyond this year. Both fighters have waited more than five years for this moment. If you’re the one whose hand is raised, why take a chance on a second fight, which invariably would lead to calls for a trilogy if that result differs from the first? Just tell the loser to kick rocks. Game over. Gotcha.
Great fights sometimes go unmade and those that wait this long to happen typically don’t have sequels
How did you like Leonard-Marvin Hagler II? Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya II? De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad II? You didn’t, because the originals took excruciating time to make, and they never took Roman numerals. Rematches made sense in each case, and for varying reasons, they never happened.
Muhammad Ali-George Foreman II? Hagler-Thomas Hearns II? Never happened. Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones II happened so late that no one cared. The same fate nearly befell Leonard-Hearns II, though both had deteriorated at roughly the same rate and made a compelling fight, which may be the best hope for Mayweather-Pacquiao, a fight we may feel fortunate to see even once. How did you like that Leonard-Aaron Pryor fight back in the day? Or Riddick Bowe against either Lennox Lewis or Mike Tyson? The obvious fights don’t always happen. At least this one soon will exist in more than wistful theory.
The Hagler effect
If Mayweather should lose for the first time in his professional career, in the biggest fight of his life, who’s to say he won’t make like Hagler after losing to Leonard and run off to Italy to make spaghetti westerns? The loser in this fight will be devastated. If it’s Mayweather, who already is planning on only one more fight in September, that second fight this year might never happen.
It can’t be a tactical fight
This might be the easiest concern to alleviate, but if the fight is two chess pieces moving around each other, purchased by 3.5 million U.S. households which usually don’t buy fights, then the market is dead. There won’t be the same interest, there won’t be the same pool of money, and there won’t be a second fight. There’s always the possibility that the luster of a rematch is knocked off before the fighters even get to their locker rooms because the fight has to be an artistic success for anything approaching a similar pool of money to be replicated.
Doing business has been a pain
That bizarre ticket snafu this week isn’t the half of it. But that something like ticket distribution reached such a level of stupid acrimony and irksome back-and-forth finger pointing illustrates how bad it has been. First, this level of event, with major sponsorship contracts, two television networks, and soon the two highest-paid athletes of 2015, wasn’t going to be undone because the promoters were nit-picking over tickets. Second, the whole escapade was completely symbolic of a fight on which finalizing the major deal points proved easy once they sat down and talked, but as Arum adroitly put it, “the niggling little details … excruciating.”
Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, views the last two months as a microcosm of why Mayweather left Arum in 2006.
“That’s how Bob is. He isn’t the lead promoter, he doesn’t have control, and he doesn’t like it,” Ellerbe said.
Arum said he enjoys dealing with Ellerbe and called him a “nice guy,” but also likes pointing out that he believes Al Haymon, Mayweather’s shadow adviser, is pulling all the strings.
“Ellerbe’s a pleasure to work with. But he isn’t the one in charge. He isn’t the one making decisions,” Arum said.
There will be some extremely raw feelings after this fight, between the fighters, between their promoters, and potentially between their television networks.
HBO and Showtime don’t work together often, and with Pacquiao on the former, and Mayweather on the latter, Arum has had ample opportunity to point out that whenever he reaches an impasse, he goes over the head of Showtime Sports executive vice president and general manager Stephen Espinoza to deal directly with CBS president Leslie Moonves.
“Espinoza, I don’t particularly care for,” Arum said. “I don’t like dealing with him. He probably doesn’t like dealing with me either, or with the HBO people. But his method of dealing — I’m not talking about whether he’s wrong on issues, that’s debatable. But his method of dealing, I don’t like. He stalls, you don’t get an answer from him. I’m not used to that. The HBO people aren’t used to it.”
By the end of fight night, they’re all likely to feel content in knowing they don’t have to do it again.
There is no provision for it
To what degree either side talks much about a rematch, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of optimism that both sides will want to do it again. That Mayweather didn’t demand a rematch clause, when he has in some recent contracts, may be telling.
“It’s really, really strange to me that Floyd didn’t sign a rematch clause in his contract,” Roach said. “I found that a little bit odd because that means there isn’t a rematch, or if we win, and we do get a rematch, we’ll be in charge of the negotiations — unless they had gotten that in the contract, and they didn’t do that. So I wonder sometimes where his head’s at. He’s had a big career. It’s got to end sometime.”
It would be quite the comeuppance for the fighter self-nicknamed “Money” to take a short-end cut of a rematch, wouldn’t it?