Word around the campfire yesterday was that Floyd Mayweather Jr., in a third round of secretive negotiations to fight Manny Pacquiao, made a demand: $100 million, or no fight.
I wanted to give myself time to think about that. See, I basically consider Floyd Mayweather Jr. to be a non-factor in today's actual boxing landscape -- you know, the world where boxing is happening, instead of just being centered on a single fight that isn't going to happen. It may not drive big traffic to this site, or thrill too many, but I'd rather talk about Steve Molitor facing Takalani Ndlovu for a third time, even though it's not really a rivalry since Molitor is 2-0, than I would talk about whatever nonsense Mayweather is up to this week.
Because to me, as a boxing fan first and a guy who talks about the sport second, I'm sick of Mayweather in every way. I'm sick of the weird, childish behavior. Sick of reading his latest headline for whatever criminal accusation has come against him. Sick of hearing him talk about how much money he made betting on a basketball game. Sick of his alternating between ignoring that Manny Pacquiao exists and accusing him of using performance enhancing drugs in what has grown to be an increasingly desperate smear campaign from a man who simply put, doesn't want to fight the guy he's trying to run down.
While Manny Pacquiao fights, Floyd sits and shows up in crime reports. Don't get me wrong here, either. Pacquiao-Margarito was not the fight I wanted. Pacquiao-Mosley is not the fight I want. And whatever's after that, be it Marquez or Berto or even Martinez, is not the fight I want.
I'm like anyone else. I want Pacquiao-Mayweather. I want to see an era defined with the two greatest boxers of a generation going head-to-head. It is, in my view, a fabulous style clash waiting to happen. The slickest of the slick against a fast, southpaw banger who fights fearlessly. Mayweather has made a living off of feeding on the aggression of opponents. Pacquiao has made a living off of being too aggressive for the best of them.
But if Mayweather really demanded a $100 million guarantee, he got a guarantee alright. It's the guarantee that he'll never fight Manny Pacquiao.
Because he doesn't want to. For about two years now, I have said that I really don't believe that either of them wanted the fight. Time has changed that stance. I now firmly believe that Mayweather doesn't want it, and that Manny Pacquiao would take it without a second thought. Floyd and his team have been clever. They planted the seeds of doubt with the PED allegations, a situation that went to court. Then they demanded the Olympic-level drug testing from Pacquiao, which was helped out by the fact that "Sugar" Shane Mosley, in order to get a big payday against Mayweather, had agreed to the same last May.
Since Mosley, who has admitted to using PEDs in the past (albeit he says he did so unknowingly), agreed to the drug testing, it could open up the question of, "If Shane will do it, why won't Manny?" After all, does Manny have something to hide? The stumbling answer of "Manny doesn't like needles" came off poorly when they came up with it and still does, especially considering they have a very good reason. That reason is that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is not the don of boxing. He doesn't make the rules. That's up to commissions. And anyone that believes at this point that Mayweather has any serious interest in "cleaning up" the sport of boxing is kidding themselves.
It's just another way to avoid the fight that we all want to see. Mayweather has more excuses than he does career pay-per-view buys at this point, and that's not a knock on the drawing power of "Money."
So much time and so much energy and so much frustration has been spent over this fight not happening yet, but I'm telling you now: it's time to let go. For all boxing fans everywhere, for the casual fans who would tune in for this and nothing else. The child is grown. The dream is gone. This fight's not going to happen. Pacquiao's 32 years old, and though he doesn't look to be heading out imminently, he's already eyeballing a career finish. And Mayweather is 34 years old now, with all of two fights on his record since what I felt was a true career night against Ricky Hatton in December 2007, the most overall memorable bout of his career.
The time has come now to stop blaming Pacquiao for his opponents. He's fighting whoever is out there for him to fight, with some typical boxing B.S. restrictions like his promoters wanting to stay in-house for opponents. But he's only not fighting Mayweather because Mayweather doesn't want to fight. This is not "hating." This is the reality staring everyone straight in the face. Floyd Mayweather Jr. isn't going to fight Manny Pacquiao. Not this year, not next year, not ever.
My advice is to enjoy the remaining career of Manny Pacquiao, who has blossomed into a truly unlikely global phenomenon. Take it for what it is, but don't turn your back on it, either. It's not his fault that Mayweather won't fight. The blame has to go to Floyd now, and Floyd alone.