Don’t Hold Your Breath for Pacquiao - Mayweather
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Jan 9, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo Art created by Chee)
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao
As the news broke on Friday that Floyd Mayweather would not have to report to prison till June 1st, the immediate focus turned to the possibility of a May 5th showdown between “Money” and Manny Pacquiao. It’s a fight that has been talked about ad nauseam for two years now with no real progress in coming to fruition. However, the reality is that this fight is no closer to happening than it was before. In fact, it says here that this most recent legal maneuvering in Nevada ensures this fight is off the books for 2012. And please, folks, don't kill the messenger. I can pander to you guys by telling you what you want or I can tell you the truth.
I'll go with the latter.
The bottom line is that on May 5th, Mayweather- as long as he was a free man- was going to face another Golden Boy Promotions client (as he has exclusively since 2007) and Pacquiao already had his quartet of choices lined up for him by Bob Arum (who he meets this week in the Philippines).
Many now place the blame squarely on Arum, who certainly shares some it in this quagmire with his ever-changing stories and double-talk. This latest episode has been to Arum what the “swift-boat” was to John Kerry. But he's just one component of why this fight hasn't taken place.
The real reason is simple: for both boxers, economically, it really doesn't have to.
Yeah, I said it (and please, save all your emails talking about “legacy” and how “important” it is for the business of boxing. If you believe that, well, I suggest you update your pound-for-pound rankings while you're at it).
The fans say that both boxers need each other. Economic reality says that Manny and Floyd don't need each other at all from a fiscal perspective. That may seem counterintuitive but, financially, they are doing just fine without each other as they both face handpicked opposition in multimillion-dollar showcases. In the risk/reward pendulum, they cannot only face foes who are heavy underdogs but they can also pay them less than 10 percent of what they themselves are guaranteed (for instance, while Mayweather's guarantee in September was over $20 million, Victor Ortiz, coming off his big win over Andre Berto, was promised just $2.5 million) Profit margins like that simply wouldn't exist if they fought each other over every last percentage point.
We all like to have this romantic notion that prizefighters participate in these contests for such things as “legacy” (there's that word again), honor and pride. Really, they fight for the best deal possible (I mean, the very word “prizefighter” suggests this is the most honest reason why they get into this profession). I mean, let's face it; none of them would do this for free- nor should they be expected to. At the level where Pacquiao and Mayweather reside, they are now more businessmen than boxers.
But let's get to the nuts and bolts of the matter- the money. I've asked a few people to see just how much this fight might be worth (and these are all ballpark figures and estimations I got from industry insiders who have an acute knowledge of such proceedings). If you believe this bout will be the most purchased pay-per-view card of all-time, surpassing the 2.4 million buys for Mayweather's breakout fight versus Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, then we'll go with the calculations of 2.5 million buys at $75 a head (and you just know they will jack up the price for this one). That means $187.5 million of revenue, of which about half goes to the cable distributors and operators. So that's around $94 million to begin with for the promotion.
Then you have the site fee (which is a big bone of contention from the two sides) but let’s say the MGM Grand ponies up $20 million. The foreign rights of this fight bring in around $30 million; then you get around $10 million in sponsors followed by $2.5 million in delay and rebroadcast rights. Also, there are closed-circuit sales which are worth several million in revenue.
As for the costs, an international press tour and marketing will cost upwards of $5 million, the undercard (and we hope they'd put on a good one) around $2 million; the production of the show from inside the arena could run another $1 million. So even then, that's a lot of money, nearly $150 million. Certainly everyone can be assuaged then, right?
Not if the rumors and reports of Mayweather asking for $100 million are to be believed. Let's say you can talk him down to a mere $75 million. Even if that was achieved, it can be safely assumed that Pacquiao will receive right around that same amount. You see what I'm getting at here? (One promoter who's been involved in numerous major pay-per-view promotions believes the number above is highly inflated and the figure closer to reality and availability would be in the neighborhood of $100 million.)
Right now, both of these guys make around $35-$40 million a fight by facing the likes of Ortiz, Joshua Clottey, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley and- soon- Saul Alvarez, Robert Guerrero, Lamont Peterson or Tim Bradley. If it’s your opinion that $50 million apiece down the line is fair for both fighters (which would leave plenty of money for everyone else involved to profit based on the original estimate and- trust me- guys like Arum and his nemesis, Al Haymon, aren't doing this without getting their cut) and the powers that be can get them to accept that, then you might have a fight- but we go back to the risk vs. reward pendulum. If you're already making the aforementioned amount for whom you have recently faced, is it worth the risk for either of them to face the most threatening opponent out there for a “mere” $50 million?
(And who really thinks this will be an easy and magnanimous negotiation? There is still a huge personal animus regarding Mayweather, Arum, Haymon and Golden Boy.)
One longtime observer of the boxing business pointed out to me that it was easy for Roberto Duran to face Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980 in Montreal for a couple million dollars because in the previous fights, he was making around $250-300,000 a fight. “That's why those fights were able to be made,” said this insider, who added, “I mean, that means you'd have to pay Floyd like $175 million based on what he's made recently.” But this isn't all about Mayweather's demand? While Pacquiao may not blithely burn money or “make it rain” in front of HBO cameras, he lives a lifestyle that is every bit as opulent and lavish as his counterpart. It's not unusual for him to get cash advances from Top Rank. Trust me; “Pac-Man” wants to get paid every bit as much as Mayweather does.
Right now, the only thing taking place is posturing. The endgame is to act as if they are serious about making this fight a reality while all along planning to take another relatively easy payday (yet having the right to point the finger at each other). (Right now, Mayweather's side has out-Karl Rove'd Pacquiao and Arum) And guess what? It's worked because while there is the familiar gnashing of teeth and outrage from the fans, looking at the raw numbers, this subterfuge has proven to be successful. Both boxers are now franchises who can count on the support of these blind loyalists, no matter who they face.
Especially not each other. This debate is now more heated than anything involving Republicans vs. Democrats.
As long as you, Joe Public, support either man, the chances are that this fight will not take place until long after the sell-by date on this match-up passes, when they finally have no choice but to face each other. Or it could be this generation’s version of Riddick Bowe-Lennox Lewis, another heavily anticipated bout that never took place as it was bogged down in egos and politics. While everyone says that boxing needs this fight, as I said before, these two don't necessarily need other (not yet, at least).
While there is a lot of money on the table, there just isn't enough.
Perhaps if we lived in a world where boxers and their handlers really cared about stuff like “legacy” and historical standing, we'd get this fight. Unfortunately, we don't and so what boxing really is- and always has been; don't fool yourself- is a series of business deals that make sense for those involved. 
The promoter I spoke to told me that perhaps that best way to make this fight would be for both Pacquiao and Mayweather to agree to a straight-up 50/50 split of the profits with no guarantees. Now that's old-school. There was a time when major fighters were paid off the gate, so there was more of a premium on facing better opponents and being in entertaining affairs. But television has forever altered this industry.
While that sounds great in theory, it will never happen in this current era. From the time they are anointed stars by HBO or Showtime, too many fighters nowadays are accustomed to getting guaranteed purses- whether they have 15 people in the stands or 50 viewers at home. I've said for a long while that a market correction is needed in the boxing business. Beyond that, perhaps a new model in which fighters’ values are gauged is a necessity.
Regarding Pacquiao and Mayweather, it's hard to say they are overpaid. Their pay-per-view numbers and gate receipts show that perhaps, they are among the very few who aren't. In a painful irony for many boxing fans, it's probably what's keeping them apart.
I thought our very own Gabe Montoya wrote an excellent piece on the recent events related to Mayweather and Amir Khan on Friday: Selective Outrage: Mayweather, Khan and Olusegun
- In regard to Mayweather, I've said it before; those in charge in Nevada are there to protect the interests of the gaming and casino industries. This ruling by Judge Melissa Saragosa just proves it. But to that point, why not just give Mayweather an option of fighting again in 2012 instead of serving his time. He could give the proceeds to the state and call it a form of “community service”? (I'll let you guys decide if I'm making a tongue-in-cheek statement or not.)
- I don't even know what to say about Amir Khan and his actions since his loss to Lamont Peterson. I don't think I can remember anyone who has done more to destroy the goodwill from a memorable night quite like he has. Maybe it's just me or is it just Golden Boy who is always talking about appeals and protests in the wake of losses? Perhaps they are taking the lead of the man whose silhouette graces the company’s logo. Has he ever launched his investigation into the judging of his rematch with Shane Mosley?
Just as important, has he ever granted Felix Sturm a rematch?
I had Ray Beltran defeating Luis Ramos by a couple of points (but my opinion doesn't count) on Friday night in what turned out to be an excellent edition of “ShoBox” promoted by Golden Boy...Omar Figueroa just flat out out-toughed Mike Perez in that opener, taking the air out of his balloon with body shots...Will it be 2007 all over again when the G-Men go back up to Lambeau Field to face the Packers next week?...There will be a touchdown in the BCS title game between LSU and ‘Bama, right?...I dunno but watching “Solo Boxeo” on Saturday night just isn't the same...

More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...

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