“You can run, but you can’t hide,” so goes the popular adage from former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe “The Brown Bomber” Louis.
For the last five years or so, American Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been playing cat and mouse with Filipino ring superstar Manny Pacquiao. For the most part, it is Mayweather who has assumed the role of the elusive mouse, what with his outrageous demands for a mega bout with the Pacman.
Mayweather, however, may have boxed himself into a corner following his recent victory over Argentina’s Marcos Maidana. In a routine performance, Mayweather outboxed the one-dimensional Maidana to retain his World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight (147 pounds) championship with a lopsided decision. Mayweather improved his ledger to 47-0 and is now just two wins away from duplicating the all-time best record of 49-0 set by former world heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano in the 1950s.
Mayweather can easily pick two nondescript opponents and waltz his way to 49-0. However, prevailing circumstances do not permit him to take that route. Mayweather has inked a six-fight deal with cable network Showtime worth an astronomical $200 million. He has already completed four fights and is down to his last two bouts. However, except for the match with Mexican Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Mayweather’s three other bouts (one against Robert Guerrero and two against Maidana) did not really shatter pay-per-view records. You can bet that the executives of Showtime are frowning in the boardroom at this development. The latest buzz is that Showtime may demand a major upgrade in the quality of opposition for Mayweather’s last two tights, if only for the network to realize some dividends from the six-fight deal.
You can sense that Mayweather is already feeling the pressure when he announced after the Maidana that he was willing to make the Pacquiao fight happen. Under the Showtime time frame, Mayweather’s next two fights may happen in May and September 2015.
Mayweather further hinted that he may archive the gloves the moment the deal comes to an end.
A lot of candidates have cropped up, the most prominent being former super lightweight champ Amir Khan (29-3, 19 knockouts), WBC middleweight king Miguel Cotto (39-4, 32 knockouts) and WBA and WBC super lightweight titlist Danny Garcia (29-0, 17 knockouts). Khan was closing in on Mayweather early this year when the latter had a change of heart and opted for Maidana. Cotto, who gave Mayweather a tough fight before losing on points in May 2012 in a fight for the WBC super welterweight (154 pounds) crown, now campaigns in the 160-pound division and is unlikely to go down in weight to accommodate Mayweather. Garcia remains untested, something Mayweather is definitely taking into account, but Top Rank chief Bob Arum is also hot on the tail of the Philadelphia-based puncher in the hope of reserving him for Pacquiao.
Pacquiao (56-5, 38 knockouts), who is booked to defend his World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title against Chris Algieri in November, is easily the choice of the entire boxing universe. There have been rumors of secret talks between Showtime and HBO, fanned no less by Arum. Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza has denied such midnight meetings, but with Mayweather and Pacquiao both running out of marquee foes, Showtime and HBO (which is identified with Top Rank) may have no choice but to sit down and talk about a possible joint venture.
Ultimately, it boils down to the gargantuan amount of money that will be generated if Pacquiao-Mayweather fight gets off the blueprint stage. Greed fuels the pro boxing business and for sure Showtime, HBO and Top Rank do not want to end up empty-handed.
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