Just when you thought the life of Floyd Mayweather couldn’t get any wackier, there’s this: On Friday, just hours before Mayweather was set to report to county jail to begin a 90-day sentence that was part of a plea deal he made to avoid a felony assault trial, Las Vegas judge Melissa Saragosa agreed to delay Mayweather’s sentence until June 1, allowing Mayweather to fight as planned on May 5.
Putting aside the judge's bizarre decision -- which was seemingly made for the economic benefit of Las Vegas, which Mayweather’s attorney, Richard Wright, argued for -- the next logical question is this: Will we finally get to see Mayweather fight Manny Pacquiao?
According to Bob Arum, no. Arum told multiple reporters Friday afternoon that Pacquiao’s next fight would be in June. Arum plans to travel to the Philippines next week to present Pacquiao with a list of four possible opponents: Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, Miguel Cotto and Lamont Peterson. The delay of Mayweather’s sentencing, Arum said, would not change that.
That, quite frankly, is ridiculous. Now, Arum fumed when Mayweather made an official announcement in November that he would be fighting May 5 and — albeit not directly — he wanted to fight Manny Pacquiao. We can debate Mayweather’s motives for suddenly developing a taste for a Pacquiao fight over the last month (a popular theory, one I believe, is that Mayweather saw Pacquiao struggle against Marquez, a man he destroyed in 2009, and decided now was the time to make the fight) but there is no debating that this is the first time Mayweather has shown a clear interest in making this mega fight. Arum’s problem, which he has voiced to me repeatedly, was that Mayweather was not so big that he should be dictating where and when a Pacquiao fight should take place.
Arum doesn’t like the people he has to make a deal with, either. He hates Mayweather’s adviser, Al Haymon. He is annoyed by what he believes is a lack of an understanding of the boxing business by Mayweather’s de facto promoter, Golden Boy. And, of course, he doesn’t like Mayweather, the man who left him just before signing to fight the richest fight in boxing history, against Oscar De La Hoya.
Still, Arum has to at least explore the possibility of a Mayweather fight. Whether it is Arum or Todd duBoef -- the Top Rank President who has taken a more involved role in the company the last few years -- someone needs to reach out to Haymon or Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer. If you believe former HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg (and I do), there was a deal to be had in 2010, when Arum, Haymon and Greenburg negotiated a deal that ultimately was rejected by Mayweather. At the very least a few phone calls need to be exchanged.
This is where incoming HBO Sports president Ken Hershman can play a role. Hershman is an accomplished dealmaker; just review all the moving parts it took to bring together to make the Super Six super middleweight tournament. He has a relationship with Haymon. He has a relationship with Arum. He has a relationship with Golden Boy. Hershman, like Greenburg, could act as a go-between, a filter, someone to cut through the rhetoric and get to the points that matter.
And there really are not many issues in dispute. Both sides, I’ve been told, have agreed to a 50-50 split. Both sides have agreed to unlimited, USADA monitored blood testing, though there are some questions about whether Mayweather would allow WADA to test Pacquiao when he is training in the Philippines. Arum may not like Mayweather dictating a May 5 in Las Vegas date but Pacquiao has fought eight of his last 10 fights in Las Vegas and on Cinco de Mayo weekend twice in the last three years. The date and venue should not be a significant issue.
Arum should not let his ego or personal feelings toward Mayweather and his team influence him on this. This is a golden opportunity to give boxing an unparalleled shot in the arm, to determine once and for all who the best pound for pound fighter is in the sport. Floyd made his move, Bob. You’re up.
-- Chris Mannix