Why can't X fight Y? A brief guide to the politics that prevent Mayweather-Pacquiao and many other fights you want to see

Ethan Miller

"Hey! Why should Manny Pacquiao fight Juan Manuel Marquez or Mike Alvarado later this year? Why can't he fight Danny Garcia or someone else?"

Sometimes, folk will still ask me, "Hey, man, why doesn't Manny Pacquiao fight Danny Garcia?" or whatever. Well, the reasons are very complex, and yet so very, very simple. Their promoters do not work together. Period. That's just the way it is.

Without going into a whole giant breakdown, because I have neither the time nor the patience to try and get to the true roots of all this stuff, here are the quick bullet points that you always need to remember:

  • HBO and Showtime are at boxing war.
  • Golden Boy and Top Rank are at boxing war. Golden Boy's fighters fight on Showtime. Top Rank's fighters fight on HBO.
  • HBO does no business with Golden Boy or manager/adviser (or whatever he is) Al Haymon.
  • There are times these "rules" are broken. Here's the key to that: they involve fighters not worth a lot of money. For instance, we saw Erislandy Lara (Golden Boy) face Vanes Martirosyan (then Top Rank) on HBO, because Top Rank won a purse bid for an eliminator fight between them. Golden Boy was fine with letting Lara take that fight. Lara was not worth much money and they had nothing better for him. We may see this again if indeed Gary Russell Jr (Haymon/Golden Boy) faces Vasyl Lomachenko (Top Rank) in June. Golden Boy won a purse bid for their vacant title fight. Lomachenko is not worth much money right now, and Top Rank has nothing better for him. Edwin Rodriguez (promoted by DiBella, but signed with Haymon) was desperately needed by HBO last year, so they had him face Andre Ward. He will at some point return to HBO, too, as part of that deal included a promised second HBO fight.
Top Rank and Golden Boy have been rivals ever since Golden Boy formed, as it was Top Rank fighter Oscar De La Hoya who broke off and started that company.

While De La Hoya and Top Rank's Bob Arum are at one of their peace periods at the moment, the same cannot be said for Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer (who really runs the company) and Arum. It might be a stretch to say they hate each others guts, but it also might not be a stretch. Haymon (who might run things even more than Schaefer does) and Arum do no business together whatsoever and never have. And Floyd Mayweather, the most powerful money fighter in the sport, is not only expanding his role as a promoter, but there have been zero periods of peace since he left Top Rank about seven years ago. Mayweather and Arum do not have a good relationship whatsoever, and the idea of them working together is, for the moment, impossible.

Someday, parts or all of this will change. But for the time being, fights between Golden Boy/Mayweather/Haymon/Showtime fighters and Top Rank/HBO fighters are simply a no-go unless the fighter(s) involved are not money players of any sort.

For right now at this moment, put aside your long-held Boxing Head beliefs of ducking from anyone, or fear, or whatever else.

Here are quick lists of each side.

Fighters Under the Golden Boy/Mayweather/Al Haymon/Showtime Banner

Including but not limited to:

  • Floyd Mayweather
  • Canelo Alvarez
  • Adrien Broner
  • Danny Garcia
  • Bernard Hopkins
  • Adonis Stevenson
  • Shawn Porter
  • Keith Thurman
  • Erislandy Lara
  • Paulie Malignaggi
  • Marcos Maidana
  • Lucas Matthysse
  • Luis Collazo
  • Amir Khan
  • Devon Alexander
  • Jesus Soto Karass
  • Lamont Peterson
  • Anthony Peterson
  • Andre Berto
  • Abner Mares
  • Austin Trout
  • Gary Russell Jr
  • Alfredo Angulo
  • Sadam Ali
  • Jermall Charlo
  • Jermell Charlo
  • Sharif Bogere
  • Omar Figueroa
  • Robert Guerrero
  • Leo Santa Cruz
  • Jorge Linares
  • Sakio Bika
  • Marco Antonio Periban
  • J'Leon Love

Fighters Under the Top Rank/HBO Banner

Including but not limited to:

  • Manny Pacquiao
  • Timothy Bradley
  • Julio Cesar Chavez Jr
  • Juan Manuel Marquez
  • Mike Alvarado
  • Brandon Rios
  • Nonito Donaire
  • Vic Darchinyan
  • Zou Shiming
  • Guillermo Rigondeaux
  • Mikey Garcia (for now, at least)
  • Evgeny Gradovich
  • Ruslan Provodnikov (promoted by Banner Promotions, but Top Rank works with Banner on his fights)
  • Jessie Vargas
  • Khabib Allakhverdiev
  • Ray Beltran
  • Vasyl Lomachenko

"Others"

  • Miguel Cotto does as he pleases. Right now, he's fighting with Top Rank and HBO, but he is signed to neither.
  • Sergey Kovalev is signed with HBO and promoted by Main Events, who at this point do no business with Showtime, and are in fact fighting hard against Al Haymon.
  • Sergio Martinez has two fights left with HBO, counting his June 7 bout with Miguel Cotto. He is promoted by DiBella Entertainment.
  • Gennady Golovkin is with HBO, and is promoted by K2 Promotions.
  • Andre Ward is with HBO, and is promoted for now by Goossen Tutor, though that is something he's seeking to change.
  • Edwin Rodriguez, promoted by DiBella Entertainment, is with Al Haymon, but has a promised fight with HBO remaining.
  • Daniel Geale is promoted by Gary Shaw, Matthew Macklin by DiBella Entertainment. Both have been linked to HBO recently.
  • Carl Froch and George Groves will be fighting on HBO on May 31. Both are promoted by Matchroom Boxing, and have no true US TV allegiance. HBO bought this fight.
  • Yuriorkis Gamboa is not promoted by Top Rank, but, like, he basically is promoted by Top Rank. His promoter is 50 Cent (SMS Promotions), but his two fights with 50 have come on Top Rank cards, including his next bout against Terence Crawford. So that makes Gamboa an HBO fighter. Obviously, 50 and Mayweather have some issues, so Gamboa's not going to be fighting on Showtime any time soon.

But Why Can't They Fight?

Because they don't, and there is no current indication that boxing's grudge-filled landscape is going to change.

By the way, no one is arguing that this doesn't suck, that it doesn't harm the sport, and that it isn't petty and bizarre for a bunch of rich guys who claim to be all about business to forego the most attractive, biggest money fights they can make in order to avoid working with one another. But that's how boxing is and always has been, to some degree or another. It's just that now, with boxing a truly marginalized niche sport and only two outlets in the U.S. willing to pay any real money for fights, the battle lines are drawn like never before.

I hope this helps someone. It won't, because it all still sucks and makes no sense to people who want to think this is really a sport more than it is an specialty entertainment business with guys really beating each other up anyway, but at least there's some small reference out there now.

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