With Floyd Mayweather present, the biggest game in Madison Square Garden this evening had very little to do with basketball. Instead, it was the game that Floyd is playing with the fans that has everyone talking.
Another week, another contradiction. Such is the pattern between Bob Arum and Floyd Mayweather over the past decade or so. This time around Arum has (again) been saying that everything is settled, and Manny has signed on to fight Floyd Mayweather. As far as Arum is concerned, everyone is waiting on Floyd. Nothing new here. Over the past two months, this refrain has gotten more airplay than Taylor Swift.
Of course Floyd, showman that he is, chose the NBA All-Star game as the stage for his rebuttal. Large audience or not, Floyd did not hesitate to leave them disappointed and frustrated…
“I haven’t signed yet and… [Pacquiao] hasn’t signed yet. It’s just been… speculations and rumors but um, hopefully, we can make the fight happen.”
Ever the crowd-pleaser, that Floyd Mayweather!
So… that’s it then. Still nothing. No details. No comments on what might be holding things up. No talk of drug testing. No problems with purse splits. No statements regarding rival networks. Nothing.
There are a few positives that I can take away from this interview. One of which is that this whole process in no way resembles any failed negotiations of the past.
Unlike other failed negotiations, Floyd is not on the attack. He doesn’t seem to be anticipating the PR nightmare that another failed negotiation would be. In 2009, he made it very clear why things were not progressing. Every reason was in some way Pacquiao’s fault, and he never relented. He put himself in a position to control the narrative once the negotiations failed. It was a brilliant maneuver.
This time, instead of planting the seeds for a “blame Pacquiao” campaign in anticipation of a failure to make the fight, he is just sitting back and being… diplomatic? Yup, I can’t believe I just typed that either but it’s true, and it is a very good sign.
I have no doubt that Pacquiao has already agreed to this fight. The second Manny agreed; Floyd was given the power to dictate the earliest stages of the promotion and he is taking full advantage of the position it puts him in. For now, it is a matter of keeping all eyes on him and allowing the chatter to build.
Let’s not kid ourselves, Floyd already knows what his decision will be. His decision to wait is one of strategy. For now, just forget about what his strategy may be and consider why he can wait.
Unlike other fights, Floyd does not need 5-6 months to promote a fight with Pacquiao. The day Floyd agrees, it becomes the most anticipated event of the 21st century. A 6-week press tour has nothing on a tweet via @FloydMayweather confirming that the fight has been made. So, the fact that Floyd can wait is a positive in its own right.
In sticking with this idea, try not to get too hung up on Floyd “running out of time” to make the fight happen. If anything, the less time there is, the more likely it is that he will clash with Pacquiao. As of today, Floyd still insists on fighting in May. At the All-Star game Floyd reiterated:
“I’m Mayweather; we have to make it happen in May.”
The longer Mayweather waits, the fewer options he gives himself. Yes, he can still make a fight with Cotto in May but how well will that do if he only gives it ten weeks of promotion? The damage control for the failed Pacquiao fight would require ten weeks by itself. The smaller the window for fight promotion, the more likely it is that Mayweather-Pacquiao will happen.
For now, we can remain disappointed that Floyd is still playing games, but we cannot deny his ability as a promoter. He has been effortlessly keeping our attention during this entire process and isn’t that what good promotion is all about? Think about it: The fight hasn’t even been confirmed yet, and Floyd is upstaging the NBA All-Star game with a 30 second interview about it. Feel free to complain, but if the fight is happening, all of this stuff is working.