Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.: A Look at the Trash Talk

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2012

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 17:  Floyd Mayweather Jr. speaks during his post-fight news conference after his fourth round knockout of Victor Ortiz in their WBC welterweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 17, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In this science fiction world we now live in, it has become possible for a professional prize fighter to deliver an insult-stuffed challenge to his rival from across time and space and in full public view. Thus, we have had the Floyd Mayweather Jr. trash-talk extravaganza on Twitter this week. 

In between flaunting his charity work and bragging about $400,000 NCAA wagers, Mayweather issued this provocative series of tweets: 

My Jail Sentence was pushed back because the date was locked in./Step up Punk./Manny Pacquiao I'm calling you out let's fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see./Just won $400k on Alabama, the new National Champs. Congrats to both teams!

Meanwhile, a Tuesday, January 2 story quotes Pacquiao as insisting that he did want to fight Mayweather next, but that it was ultimately up to his promoter, Bob Arum, to make the fight:

“I am meeting with my promoter, Bob Arum on Tuesday and I will insist that the fight with Mayweather be given the preference than the four others in the list I will fight next,” Pacquiao told this writer in Tagalog in a long distance telephone conversation yesterday from General Santos City.  "Whoever the fans want me to fight, I will face him atop the ring. I don’t choose a fight. It is my promoter who does because it’s his job. My job is to fight, everybody must realize that,” Pacquiao, a lawmaker, a singer, movie actor, television host and a columnist, emphasized. “Whoever says I’m ducking this fighter or that fighter, doesn’t know me, or just plainly wants to put me in bad light,” he surmised. “I never dodged from fighting anybody. If I did, I won’t be where I am now.” 

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 09:  Top Rank Founder and CEO Bob Arum speaks during the final news conference for the bout between boxers Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand Hotel/Casino November 9, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pacquiao will d
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

I think that for a long time the impression among most fans has been that Mayweather was the one ducking Pacquiao. This week's rhetoric may change some perceptions.

I think a lot of American fans are going to scratch their heads over the world's No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer insisting that he can only fight the opponents that his promoter chooses for him.

Mayweather, who will serve jail time this year for beating the mother of his children, in front of his children, is always going to be the man in the black hat. Pacman, modest yet charismatic, appears destined to play the hero's roll.

Still, for many American fans, Mayweather's "work for myself/speak for myself" approach is more admirable than Pac's humble, "I have to fight who my promoter picks for me" line.

On Monday, writer Lem Satterfield posed the question: "Is it up to Pacquiao to Demand a Fight with Mayweather?"

It might make for exciting copy, but I don't expect to see Pacquiao start making public demands of, or statements against, Bob Arum.

On Thursday, the two gave a press conference in the Philippines. Pacquiao again insisted that Mayweather was the fight he wanted, implying that all Mayweather needed to do to make sure the fight would go through was agree to a 50/50 purse split.

I think this sentence from Pacquiao's statement provides a good insight into the Filipino champion:

Mayweather wants a guaranteed purse, so what he has to do is get a promoter who can give him the guarantee...I don't have problems getting a guarantee because I have a promoter who will give me my guaranteed purse. 

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - NOVEMBER 20:  Boxer and congressman, Manny Pacquiao attends his concert in Manila with wife Jinky and youngest daughter Qeen Elizabeth following his win of the WBC super welterweight crown against Mexican Antonio Margarito on Novembe
Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

Pacquiao is clearly an intelligent man, but he is also a simple one, by choice. He knows an astronomical amount of money can be made off from any of his fights now, but he is happy enough to turn the complexities of that over to somebody like Bob Arum in return for a guaranteed paycheck. 

Frankly, Manny Pacquiao has made tens of millions of dollars and risen to the rank of Filipino congressman primarily through listening to Bob Arum. He's not going to stop now just because a bunch of us keyboard palookas and Internet commentators start chattering away like so many agitated monkeys.

Thursday's press conference also featured more statements about the impossibility of the fight occurring on Mayweather's supposedly locked-in date of May 5. At issue is the construction of a temporary stadium with tens of thousands of extra seats. Top Rank has estimated the extra seating would generate an additional 30 million dollars.

At Thursday's presser, Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz posed the rhetorical question: "Why would I tell Manny to fight on the 5th and throw away a percentage of 30 million?" said Koncz. "That’s crazy."

Of course, as usual, the juiciest material has come from the fighter's more articulate surrogates. In a Monday, January 9, column, Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole had this quote made by Arum during a layover on his way to meet Pacquiao in the Philippines:

“There is no magic to the May 5 date,” Arum said. “I understand there is magic to May, because [Mayweather] has to go to the hoosegow on June 1. I get that, but the magic is in [making the fight in] May, not necessarily on May 5.”

This is actually pretty sly, because Arum knows perfectly well that May 5, Cinco de Mayo, would be a huge date for Mayweather to box either of the two fighters who are considered his most likely choice for a next opponent instead of Pacquiao, Saul Alvarez or Robert Guerrero.

Honestly, the first time I read Mayweather's big announcements about the May 5 date, the first thing I thought was, "Shoot, he's going to fight a Mexican fighter instead of Pacquiao." 

Iole deserves some credit for doing a better job than most at presenting both sides of this argument, quoting generously from Mayweather's manager, Leonard Ellerbe, who insists that it is ultimately Bob Arum who stands in the way of the fight everybody wants to see:

Ellerbe said Mayweather had authorized Golden Boy Promotions to work on putting together his May 5 bout. Because of a long-time feud between Top Rank and Golden Boy, an arbiter, retired federal judge Daniel Weinstein, serves as an intermediary when the sides discuss business.

“We reached out to Judge Weinstein and asked him to contact Bob Arum and the feedback we got back from the judge was that Bob Arum was not interested in doing a fight [between Pacquiao and] Floyd Mayweather Jr.,” Ellerbe said. “I have the letter in my office. And that’s been Bob’s position. After the Marquez fight [in Las Vegas on Nov. 12], Bob said the same thing after the press conference.”

Ellerbe further spells out Arum's primary motivation, as he interprets it:

Ellerbe said that if Arum matches Pacquiao with either Marquez, Bradley, Cotto or Peterson, he will get a share of the revenues from both sides. In a Mayweather fight, Ellerbe said, Arum will only get money from Pacquiao’s side.

“His kid is a very, very good fighter, an excellent fighter, and he’s one of the top two pay-per-view stars in this sport,” Ellerbe said of Pacquiao. “He is doing really significant numbers, but when he fights, Arum controls both sides and so he gets the money on both ends.

“He’s controlling both sides. He’s the one writing the checks. He’s the one controlling the checks and determining who gets paid what. He’s receiving the revenue and directing where the revenue goes. Arum is doing better in that situation, where he takes a cut out of each guy’s side, than he is if he puts his kid into a fight with Floyd."

Ultimately, Mayweather-Pacquiao represents a huge financial event. The fact is, any fight that either participates in represents a critically needed financial boost for the entire city of Las Vegas.  That guarantees this will always be much more complicated than an honest sporting contest. 

And for now, it is starting to look increasingly unlikely that "The Fight" will occur anytime during the first half of 2012.