News out of Vegas and the Philippines is that Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations are continuing amid a growing and heated fan backlash. Emotions are running high as everyone, including the great and mighty of boxing both past and present, is coming out of the woodwork expressing dismay and disgust at the drawn out negotiations. As the process stalls and public sentiment turns against Mayweather, interest in the fight with Pac is actually growing not abating: enter Al Haymon, Mayweather’s shadowy advisor and erstwhile puppet-master.
For all the self-serving rhetoric about being his own boss, the self-styled best-ever depends on Haymon to do his bidding. Possessing both a strong intellect and world-class business acumen Haymon’s approach is brilliant for its simplicity; pursue a course for fighters that is low risk, high reward. While this may not be an action-plan that is in the best interest of boxing, it certainly is in the best interest of the fighters he represents. If the tables were turned it is asking a lot to expect anyone to act on behalf of the greater good at the expense of one’s own good. But this is just what is being asked of fighters these days and Al Haymon, Jim Lampley’s disgust notwithstanding, will have none of it.
While Mike Koncz suggests that there is positive movement, fans are well past tired of the snail-paced negotiations. On top of this Mayweather is, it would appear, harassing fans with tweets and Instagrams ignoring the fight and trumpeting his wealth and lifestyle. As recently as Friday he took to Instagram to ask fans which of his expensive vast array of shoes he should wear and to guess which pair of sunglasses he would wear that day. Mayweather does this knowing that fans are thirsting for information on negotiations. As it turns out, fans getting angry and riled up leaves only a broad smile on Haymon’s face.
Off the record, word out of the Mayweather inner circle is that as Money May stalls and appears to thumb his nose at the Pac-fight, boxing’s establishment and its fan base, he is really doing one thing, what his puppet-master Al Haymon is advising him to do. Haymon like Mayweather, is not about the business of pleasing fight fans, rather he is interested in increasing his profits in the lowest risk manner possible. In this wise Lampley got it exactly right in suggesting that Mayweather and Haymon share the same basic business approach. And while Mayweather claims that he wants to please the fans and give them the fights they want he rather arrogantly demonstrates that he wants to feed his hedonistic lifestyle and take only the fights he wants to take. The translation of course is he takes only those fights that have the look and feel of high reward and low risk.
If one were to poll recent articles on the current status of the negotiations, one would find a dearth of salient or actionable information. What information is coming out is issuing forth from either the Pacquiao camp or from boxing writers and fans trying to make sense of things. Make no mistake, if Mayweather is feeling cornered he is going to milk this process and in so doing, create more interest. While it may seem counter intuitive to some, this relative silence is actually a tried and tested way to create more interest and ultimately more revenue.
This is the brilliance of the quietude and self-serving Instagrams and tweets. In riling up the fan-base, especially the Filipino fan base, Mayweather and Haymon assure themselves that the fight will continue to grow in magnitude and stature. It is clear that Mayweather and Haymon never wanted this fight but as the pressure has grown and Money May’s legacy is now at risk, both he and Haymon see the writing on the wall. Since they have been backed into a corner and have to take the fight, they realize that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by playing economic hardball. They can and will wait this out and get the financial deal they both want and let the boxing establishment and fans be damned.
As Mayweather stalls the prospective fight with Pac-man he doesn’t mind being the bad guy, it is actually a part of a broad Al Haymon-dictated, puppet-master strategy. Money May, by most accounts, even his son’s, is not just a bad guy that is scared of losing his undefeated record and afraid of getting hurt and embarrassed, his actions appear to demonstrate that he is greedy beyond measure. With pressure mounting forcing a fight, he might as well get paid for what he assumes will be a painful and rather embarrassing spring evening in Las Vegas. And come hell-or-high-water, he and Haymon are planning on dragging everyone along the way.
Commentary by Matthew R. Fellows
Photo By: Victor Nuno – Flickr License