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Let the Games Begin - the Setup for Mayweather-Pacquiao Negotiations

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When it comes to negotiations, Mayweather can pretend he's The Giant, and that Pacquiao is Mayweather.  Can Pacquiao come from behind for a moral victory?
When it comes to negotiations, Mayweather can pretend he's The Giant, and that Pacquiao is Mayweather. Can Pacquiao come from behind for a moral victory?

As Scott reported earlier today, Pacquiao has come out and said he has no interest in facing Miguel Cotto or Shane Mosley, and he wants the Mayweather-Marquez winner.  Elsewhere, Floyd Mayweather has said that "it will be a cold day in hell" before he lets Manny Pacquiao get a 50/50 split of their purse. 

While Mayweather is preparing for a fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, everyone and their mother knows that this fight is actually part of the buildup of what could be a megafight between Mayweather and Pacquiao.  Unfortunately, Mayweather seems to be the only one behaving like it.

Negotiating a contract is all about getting leverage, and being able to effectively exercise that leverage on your opponent.  It's much like a boxing match in itself - you play to your strengths, and try to expose your opponent's weaknesses.  The party that is able to more effectively carry out this strategy will, more often than not, get the better of the negotiations.

Mayweather is already setting up for the negotiations that will inevitably take place.  While it takes bravado to come straight out and say you'll win the negotiations before they even start, it shows us where Mayweather's mind is, and it lets us know that he's not going to lay down just to get the fight made.  In addition, in putting out his 'hit list', he's shown that there are a number of opponents he's willing to face.  None of them are as big of a draw as Pacquiao, but it's also true that none of them will ask for a 50/50 split, and most of them aren't as big of a threat to take away Mayweather's shiny zero as Pacquiao is.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, hasn't done much to set up the negotiations.  First, Bob Arum made a huge blunder in announcing a record PPV gate for Pacquiao-Hatton, only to see the final numbers come in lower than for Mayweather-Hatton and back off from publishing numbers at all.  Now, Pacquiao has backed himself into a corner by saying he doesn't want to face Cotto or Mosley, who would be the second and third biggest money options after a Mayweather fight.  Thus, as I see it, here's the current negotiating landscape:

  • Mayweather can point to the fact that he drew better in pay-per-view against Hatton and De La Hoya than Pacquiao did.  A couple months from now, he'll likely be able to say the same about Juan Manuel Marquez.  While there are intervening factors (like a recession and Mayweather's overall lack of activity), this plays heavily into Mayweather's favor.
  • If there is no fight against Pacquiao, he can still take on Shane Mosley or try to take on Miguel Cotto.  He would make much more against Pacquiao than either of those guys, but if he beats either one of them, then Mayweather further improves his negotiating position, and he still probably gets $15 - 20 million richer in the process.
  • If there's no fight against Mayweather, Pacquiao will probably be stuck with facing Edwin Valero.  While it's a fight the diehards want to see, it's a MUCH smaller fight than either Mosley or Cotto.
  • If he does face Mosley or Cotto, he's much more likely to lose to them than Mayweather is, considering size and styles.  So even if he backs off his statement that he doesn't want them, there's a risk that he kills the fight completely if he loses to either of them.
  • Bob Arum does hold one wild card, in that he promotes Miguel Cotto.  As such, he might be able to prevent a Mayweather-Cotto fight or force a Pacquiao-Cotto fight, although he isn't going to want to do too much to piss off his second biggest cash cow. 

Already, Top Rank and Manny Pacquiao have made a pair of devastating tactical blunders in their future negotiations with Mayweather - backing out of the Pacquiao-Hatton pay per view buy numbers, and foreclosing on Pacquiao's other most profitable options.  Mayweather, on the other hand, has played his hand perfectly so far, saying there are a number of other big money names he'd like to face. 

While a 50/50 split might be the most equitable outcome, I have to believe Floyd on this one - the fight won't happen if Mayweather doesn't get the bigger share of the purse, at least nominally.  Pacquiao hasn't been one to swallow his pride in the past, several times threatining to back out of fights to get more of the purse.  Either way, for Pacquiao to get this big payday, he'll need to swallow something, hopefully his tongue.  If he's not willing to take less than half, he can bide his time fighting the Edwin Valeros of the world for smaller paydays.