by Tim Dahlberg
Associated Press Writer
(AP)—Manny Pacquiao was counting votes early Tuesday, and seemed happy.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. was counting money, and had to be equally happy.
“There’s a reason they call him Money Mayweather,” Mayweather’s manager, Leonard Ellerbe, said. “He’s winding up making $40 million for his night’s work.”
Indeed, Mayweather’s mood was brightened by the unofficial tally showing 1.4 million people paid to watch him dominate Shane Mosley, which Ellerbe said meant his payday would be almost double the $22.5 million he was guaranteed for the fight.
If the numbers are accurate, it would mean that Mayweather has been in the two richest non-heavyweight pay-per-view fights ever. Just as important, it gives him pay-per-view bragging rights over Pacquiao and perhaps an upper hand if and when representatives of the two sit down to negotiate the fight all boxing fans really want.
If the numbers coming out of the Philippines are accurate, that fight won’t take place until at least November, because Pacquiao will be busy working for the government. Early returns from the ballot box showed the boxer with a commanding lead in his race for Philippine Congress and he all but declared victory.
“He was floating,” promoter Bob Arum said from Manilla. “He was happier than I’ve seen him even when he won his biggest fights.”
Just as elections in the Philippines can be nefarious affairs, though, so too will be any negotiations for a Pacman-Money fight. Though the common sense prediction is that there is way too much money to be made for the fight not to happen, this is boxing, where common sense often fails to prevail.
Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, tried to get things going even as his boss was wrapping up his campaign, predicting in New York that talks would begin this week on the megafight. “I think the fight will happen,” Roach told The Associated Press.
Roach certainly wants it to happen. Not only will he and his fighter earn another big payday, but a win over the unbeaten Mayweather would both solidify Pacquiao’s rockstar status and leave no question who the best trainer in the sport is.
Mayweather and his camp should want the fight, too. If they could make $40 million for Mosley, they could double that for Pacquiao and be forever assured that the Money nickname will live on in boxing lore.
But, like the Philippines election, the early returns are already in on this. And it’s not going to be easy. “Freddie Roach must be smoking something,” Ellerbe said when informed that the talks might begin this week. “I haven’t heard of any negotiations. There are no negotiations.”
Posturing is always part of boxing, of course, but there’s reason for the Mayweather camp to believe they hold the early upper hand. Not only did Mayweather’s pay-per-view double the 700,000 buys for Pacquiao’s fight against a lesser opponent in Joshua Clottey, but Mayweather finally gave those who paid their hard-earned money a reason to watch with an offensive performance that won him high marks.
That could mean everything is in play if and when the two sides eventually get together to negotiate. And that could mean there are more potential pitfalls for this fight than just the blood doping impasse that derailed plans for the two to get together in March.
The doping issue remains as likely the biggest obstacle to the fight. Mayweather wants Olympic-style testing at any time, while Pacquiao is adamant that taking blood within two weeks of the fight will weaken him.
But now there’s a good chance that Mayweather’s camp will also want more than the 50-50 split of revenues agreed to for the first fight.
“Floyd’s on a whole different level,” Ellerbe insisted. “Floyd has made more money in his last two fights than the other fellow has in his whole career.”
Arum has already said he will not grovel to get the fight and has talked about other opponents, beginning with Antonio Margarito. But Arum said the Mayweather fight will be first priority.
“That’s the fight the congressman wants so let’s see if we can make it happen,” Arum said.
Mayweather has other options, too, though none that will make him the kind of money a Pacquiao fight will. And while he insists he is the greatest fighter ever, he’s not even in the conversation unless he takes on the best of his era in their prime.
Still, there’s a very real chance the fight that has to happen may never happen. Both sides are too entrenched, and both sides are too intractable.
Boxing could be the loser, but that should come as no surprise to fans of the sport.
Remember, they’ve seen this act before.