Let’s stop talking about Pacquiao-Mayweather

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Pacquiao and Mayweather have behaved in a manner tantamount to
mocking the public as fans continue to have their hopes of a fight
announcement crushed

Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have acted in a manner tantamount to mocking the public as boxing fans continue to wait for the fight to happen

Manny
Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have acted in a manner tantamount to
mocking the public as boxing fans continue to wait for the fight to
happen

MANILA, Philippines – The boxing fans are angry, and I don’t blame
them. The public has every right to be upset after six years of waiting
for Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather to set aside their egos and make
the only fight that matters to the average person on the street.

The tipping point, where the fans revolted en masse at being teased
into boxing blue balls once more, came early Sunday Manila time, when
reputable fight writer Gareth Davies of the UK-based Telegraph cited a
source in Pacquiao’s camp saying that the fighters had agreed on a $250 million pot and that Pacquiao had “completed his contractual negotiations.”

Showtime sports executive Stephen Espinoza threw cold water on those
claims immediately – as he has often done – and joked that Pacquiao had
signed an “imaginary contract” as the real contract had yet to be
finished. Espinoza is outspoken and confrontational, but a liar he is
not.

Some fans have begun to say that they no longer care about the fight
and wouldn’t want to watch it. They’re lying, but they’re also tired of
being made a fool of for so long. Each false confirmation has left fans
further embittered by an institution that is overwhelmingly more of a
business than a sport.

Both sides, with their respective advisers and promoters, have
engaged in a full-on public relations war since the fight first became
relevant in 2009, looking to pin the blame on the other and come out
looking more eager to fight.

But at this point, it no longer matters who is to blame. The only ones who really end up taking the brunt are the fans.

It’s the die-hard boxing fans who feel the letdown most, like Dónal
Burleigh, who tweeted to me: “I hope #PacquiaoMayweather is announced
soon. I’m almost constantly checking Twitter for updates.”

Matters have become more inflamed over the past month, even as the
two engage in what appears to be the most earnest round of negotiations
to date.

The initial reports were encouraging as both parties agreed on most
of the major sticking points: a 60/40 purse split, random
performance-enhancing drugs testing, plus the date and venue.

Since then, the two have behaved in a manner tantamount to mocking the public.

Pacquiao has repeatedly stated that he has signed a fight contract
and is waiting on Mayweather’s signature. At the same time, his
promoter, Bob Arum, has admitted on several occasions that an agreement
is still being solidified. How can there be a contract to sign for a
deal that has yet to be agreed upon?

And now for Mayweather, who at one point during the 2010 round of talks denied that negotiations had even occurred, only to have then-HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg (who had been acting as mediator) confirm that they had taken place.

The sport’s current pound-for-pound best fighter and undisputed king
of the box office has used his social media channels to taunt the
public, showing his apparent lack of urgency in making the fight
by posting photos of himself on vacation in Jamaica with the
accompanying message “I’m just going to continue to travel and explore
the world on my private jet.”

Then, after the two met face-to-face for the first time on January 28
at a Miami Heat basketball game and spoke privately in Pacquiao’s hotel
room, Mayweather’s camp clandestinely recorded video of the private conversation, which made the encounter appear to be nothing more than an attempt to garner public opinion on his side.

At this point, it would’ve been better if the two simply came to
blows right there at center court of the American Airlines Arena. At
least then the fans would’ve gotten what they wanted.

The fight promises to be the most financially lucrative in the
history of the sport despite both having scored just one knockout
between them in the last five years.

They’ve got the people’s money, what more do they want?

The media hasn’t helped matters either by reporting on negotiations
(I’m guilty of this as well). The mad dash to edge out competition and
be the first to break what would be the biggest sporting news of the
decade comes from the core of what drives every serious reporter.

But times have changed, and Mayweather no longer has to go to a
reporter to announce a fight. Mayweather can easily reach the public
through his 5.58 million followers on Twitter, and has begun breaking
news on the Instagram-like app Shots, in which he is an investor.

Kudos to New York Daily News reporter Mitch Abramson for going to the
only source who can confirm the fight, Mayweather himself. Abramson
approached Mayweather at the NBA Dunk Contest on Sunday Manila time in
Brooklyn to ask about the fight.

Mayweather responded: “Is this a boxing match? I’m at an all star
event. Please respect my privacy. I don’t want to answer any questions.”

In trying to beat the others to the break, the media has ended up
with egg on their faces from unnamed sources who say the fight is close.
It isn’t because they’re bad reporters, but because only Mayweather can
announce the fight. Confirmation will come on his terms and no one
else’s.

That’s why, from this point forward, I vow to not report on the
negotiations until a fight is announced, either between Pacquiao and
Mayweather or whomever they choose to fight instead. I challenge the
rest of the media to do the same as well.

The fight will either happen or it won’t, but to contribute to another fan letdown is a disservice to readers.

Let’s instead focus on the hungry fighters in the sport who could use
the attention, like Gennady Golovkin or Naoya Inoue, whose recent
in-ring performances have served to distract us from the 50 shades of
bullshit going on outside of it.

So on Monday morning, when I watch the NBA All-Star game, it won’t be
because I believe the fight will be announced at tip-off. I’m going to
watch because I want to see LeBron James and Dwyane Wade play on the
same team again. – Rappler.com

Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a
member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a
contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at
ryan.songalia@rappler.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.

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