The usual suspects

Ed C. Tolentino

Ed C. Tolentino

If the on-and-off negotiation to bring about the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. mega fight is in the nature of a high-profile crime, a number of names will crop up in the police’s line of suspects.

The primary suspect in the “murder” of the dream fight, of course, is Top Rank Promotions head honcho Bob Arum. It is so easy to accuse Arum of refusing to come into terms with Mayweather’s camp because he wants Pacquiao—and all the profits he can generate from the Filipino ring icon—for himself. The dream match is guaranteed to rake in big bucks, but given the 60-40 split Pacquiao is amenable to, it means that Arum will only have 40% of the cake. On the other hand, Arum can easily arrange one or two other fights involving Pacquiao and somebody under the tutelage of Top Rank and savor all the profits for himself.

There is also the theory that Arum wants no part of Mayweather if only to get back at him after the fighter severed his ties with Top Rank several years ago. Mayweather used to fight for Top Rank until he accused Arum of paying him like a slave. With the gargantuan amount of money involved in a Pacquiao fight, the best measure of revenge for Arum is for Mayweather to have no part in it.

The next suspect is Mayweather who has been accused of dodging Pacquiao. Mayweather has made so many outrageous demands which many believe are aimed at avoiding a showdown with Pacquiao. The fight with Pacquiao was first proposed in 2009 and a deal was apparently clinched in 2010 until it fell apart because of Mayweather’s demand for rigid blood-testing and a bigger purse. Pacquiao recently agreed in principle to a 60-40 split and the proposed blood-testing protocol, leaving Mayweather with no plausible excuse. It is so easy to accuse Mayweather of being a chicken-livered coward, but boxing insiders say that the undefeated American really wants to make the fight; that his contradicting statements are only meant to mislead the “investigators” and ensure the flow of the ongoing negotiation.

A new suspect in the “murder” case is Puerto Rican Miguel Angel Cotto, who has his own motive in spoiling the big fight. Cotto appeared to be a lock to fight Mexican Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on May 2 until reports came out that Mayweather was offering the WBC middleweight titleholder an insane amount of cash to figure in a rematch of their May 2012 meeting. Cotto-Alvarez is suddenly called off and reports of a possible return bout between Cotto and Mayweather mushroom. Cotto is already 34 years old and is looking for one huge payday to secure his future. It is for this reason that many feel he is out to sabotage the fight. Of course, Cotto’s name will be stricken off the list of suspects if he distances himself from Mayweather and expresses his full support to a Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown.

Pacquiao rounds up the list of suspects. In the context of an Agatha Christie mystery novel, Pacquiao is the seemingly nonchalant butler whom nobody suspects. Investigators, however, may want to follow the lead that Pacquiao does not really want the fight and is just after the publicity he can get out of challenging Mayweather. Pacquiao is leaning on seeking a higher office in the government in 2016 and toying with the idea that he wants to fight Mayweather gives him a lot of media mileage. Heck, he even joined the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to win over local basketball fans who make up a huge chunk of the voting populace. If Pacquiao fights Mayweather in 2015 and loses badly, he can forget about his political ambition. Of course, if he wins, one can already see the “Pacman for President” banner along the city streets. The easier route, however, is to just get publicity from talking about Mayweather instead of fighting him. If Pacquiao really wants Mayweather, he will demand it from Arum and fight nobody else. Instead, there are talks of Amir Khan and Danny Garcia being next in line if the Mayweather fight is laid to rest.

The plot thickens, indeed. And one can sense Sherlock Holmes salivating at the thought of getting into the picture.

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