Dan Rafael of ESPN.com spoke with Top Rank's Bob Arum about his statements today that Manny Pacquiao will definitely not fight Floyd Mayweather Jr on May 5, despite the fact that Mayweather is now available again after having his jail sentence pushed back to June 1, and, well, it doesn't make Arum or Pacquiao look good.
This is just a piece of it, but do read the whole thing as linked above:
I asked him, now that Mayweather was available, would he at least be part of the conversation when Arum meets with Pacquiao next week?
A perturbed Arum's response was, "Absolutely not. Nope."
Come again? You won't even talk about it with Pacquiao, I asked very politely.
"My mission is to go over to the Philippines and talk about these four guys," Arum said. "If Manny feels he wants to go in May, he will tell me. I want to make sure Manny's cuts are healed. We won't fall under this kind of pressure. June is much more likely for Manny's fight, not May."
So May was a real possibility yesterday, but now there's no way?
"What if they fought and Manny started bleeding on the first punch?" a clearly flustered Arum asked. "I don't know if Manny is available to fight in May. I have no idea. I haven't talked to him, I haven't seen him. Seems to me, June is more likely based on what his plastic surgeon said."
As much as I don't buy into the idea that either single side is to blame -- everyone is to blame -- Arum is killing himself with these quotes, and making Manny Pacquiao look bad.
The thing about the cut is, no, this is not a real factor. Pacquiao did suffer a cut against Juan Manuel Marquez. So what? Fighters get cut all the time, and by May 5, it would have been six months. Andre Ward suffered a bad cut in sparring before his originally scheduled October 29 fight with Carl Froch, then got back and fought him on December 17 instead. Pacquiao did not suffer a bad enough cut for this to keep him out until June.
The other thing Rafael points out is that Arum was willing to consider Manny for a fight in May ... but not now. Now it must wait until June, unless Pacquaio tells him differently. This gives the impression that Manny Pacquiao is calling the shots. And Manny Pacquiao could call the shots, but frankly he doesn't do that. There was no great desire from the boxing world to see Pacquiao face Joshua Clottey, though that was the fight that "made sense" at the time. No great desire to see him fight Arum's pet Antonio Margarito. No desire at all to see him fight Shane Mosley, who was coming off of two straight miserable performances.
So will Pacquiao force the Mayweather conversation? Of course not. He will fight who his promoter tells him to fight. And the promoter is coming with the list of four opponents -- Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Timothy Bradley, and Lamont Peterson -- and that's it. Those are his choices. He'll meet with the important people and go from there. Freddie Roach wants Peterson, it appears.
But nobody's squeaky clean here. There's no white hat. This is perhaps the greatest-ever argument of why boxing is in the shape it's in in the United States, why it has become so pushed to the background of the sports world, and why there's no legitimate hope that it will ever again be more than a niche sport. As long as everyone's happy with their TV money, and as long as everyone rushes to celebrate when a million (a whole million!) people watch a fight, this is how it's going to operate. Pacquiao and Mayweather, perhaps because they lack the guts associated with doing something this risky to the ol' W-L record, will never fight each other until there's a legitimately compelling reason. Mayweather makes around $30-40 million to NOT fight Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao is demanding $28 million to fight Marquez a fourth time.
Why risk the hardest fight there is when the gain is comparatively small?
As for Mayweather being so totally ready to fight Manny on May 5, it's easy to say you are when you know it's not going to happen. And really he's never said that he is. He kind of hints at it, or makes remarks that can be twisted to mean something else, but he's never flat-out said, point-blank, "Yes, put Manny Pacquiao in the ring with me on May 5, because it needs to happen. That's the fight that I want."
So forgive me of being as skeptical of this as I was when Amir Khan "offered Timothy Bradley" a bunch of extra money for a fight he knew was not going to happen last July. It's easy to offer what won't be accepted. It's easy to say you want a fight when you know it won't happen. The fight has been "close" many times, and both sides have balked many times.
There is not one man or one side to blame here. Blame boxing for being what it is, because this is nothing more than, once again, business as usual. Get ready for the hype trains to roll in and roll through for the May 5 and June 9 fights.