The Mayweather verses Pacquiao saga continues. Word out of Vegas and Los Angeles is that Floyd Mayweather is personally stalling the negotiations. While Money May is tweeting like he is interested in the fight, his behind-the-scenes actions suggest otherwise. And as it turns out, if one wants to see what will happen in the fight itself, one might look to current Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations for a working metaphor.
ESPN is reporting that the Pacquiao camp is doing all it can to secure the fight, but is not getting anywhere with Mayweather. While Freddie Roach is keen to make the fight, and has been optimistic of late, that optimism appears to be crumbling. Roach has indicated that the negotiations have again hit bizarre roadblocks as Mayweather is making unreasonable demands like Arum not taking part and a few others that suggest that he is digging for excuses. The Abu Dhabi offer is still on the table, and with MGM Grand apparently Mayweather’s choice for venue, there is building tension. With so much money on the table, patience even within the Mayweather camp is growing thin.
It is clear that something is going on with Mayweather. Rarely with this kind of money on the table do negotiations drag on year-after-year like this. While boxing as a business is rough and tumble, eventually money wins out and principals find a way forward. This particular fight, however, is anything but normal. There are so many vested interests in this one that streamlining the negotiations has been difficult. With Les Moonves admitting that he is, indeed, in contact with the Mayweather camp trying to prod the way forward, it has become clear that Mayweather himself is stalling.
For many insiders, while refusing to go public, there is the fear that Mayweather is just plain nervous about the matchup. Both Floyd Sr. and Jr. are on record discussing the inherent health risks associated with fighting Pacquiao. Money May recently admitted that he has no problem being called a coward because, as he bragged, he is a “rich coward.” Prevailing wisdom is that this fight would have been made if not for one thing, Mayweather’s reluctance to fight Pacquiao.
Boxing purist’s point to the matchup of styles that make this a particularly problematic fight for Mayweather. As it turns out, the way the Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations are devolving may be a metaphor for how Mayweather himself sees the fight itself actually playing out. Mayweather struggles with lefties. While he has a good jab, he rarely uses it to start an engagement, preferring to pick his shots through pot-shotting. His offense is a construct of his defensive scheme, that is, the shoulder roll. As Scoop Malinowski suggests, Mayweather will be at a distinct disadvantage against Pacquiao in light of the fact that his method of defense, including rolling his shoulders is much more efficient against right-handed opponents, particularly ones without an advantage in reach and height. He went on to say that if “world class lefties” such as Zab Judah or Demarcus Corley could contend with Mayweather, that Pacquiao and his lefty stance would likely present a significant problem.
As Mayweather has gotten older, this approach is becoming increasingly problematic, especially against a fighter with Pacquiao’s energy and whirlwind activity. In order to pot-shot effectively, fighters need their legs under them, as well as an opponent that is essentially in front and stationary. Pacquiao is not only a lefty, but he moves a lot and gives angles. Additionally, he has mastered the art of throwing punches from surprising angles that have a stunning quality of power. When one couples this with the fact that these punches are sometimes very difficult to see, one can actually sympathize with a nervous Mayweather. One might well ask Ricky Hatton about the punch he did not see.
When Chris Algieri was interviewed in the ring after his demolition at the hands of the Pac-man he said that Pacquiao is the best at being Pacquiao. In other words, try to hit him and one finds air, try to engage him and Pac is somewhere else, try to defend against his punches and one discovers that his punches do not come from orthodox places. They come quickly from the side, from on top and from underneath. These are punches that are nearly impossible to train and prepare for.
In the view of many, current negotiations are a front, with Mayweather as puppet master trying to avoid a fight he personally feels he will struggle in. Like Pac’s unseen punches, expectations and demands are coming at an increasingly cornered Mayweather in fast and furious fashion. Like other fighters who have trained long and hard for their upcoming Pacquiao fights, once Money May gets in the ring, he will realize that there was, after all is said and done, no realistic way to anticipate Pacquiao’s speed, angles, pressure and power.
As it turns out, current Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations may indeed be a metaphor for the fight itself. In the view of many boxing aficionados, Mayweather may just find himself dumbfounded, flailing away at a moving and unseen target. He may be, in the end, getting surprised by debilitating power shots he could not see coming. Time will tell whether Mayweather is chicken or is just a brilliant negotiator.
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