The headline is glaring and ominous indeed; Mayweather-Pacquiao possible fix forces Money May bluff. Surely one jests, or worse. Say what one will about the self-styled best-ever, he is very bright and one step ahead of the curve. With four days until fight time there is an unseemly rumor gaining ground and growing in exponential terms. For the uninitiated, for those not aware of the seamy politics and underbelly of boxing, rumor has it that Saturday’s fight may be subject to a grand and sophisticated fix forcing a concerned Money May to, like a world-class poker player, make a grand and showy bluff.
In today’s presser Mayweather said projections are for him to earn upwards of two-hundred million dollars for Saturday’s fight and that he plans on doling fifty-million to each of his kids. The Powerball-esque payout is so huge that, as Mayweather continued, his prospective September fight will be his last and that it will not be a Pacquiao rematch. The problem with this public statement, and what makes it a bluff, is that it not only contradicts what insiders have been saying from the beginning of camp about a sure rematch in the event of a Pac win, but it is calculated to force a fair judgment of the fight thereby reducing the chances of the fight being unjustly taken away from him.
Floyd Sr. is making news of his own by publicly urging his son to immediately retire after the fight. The apparent public collusion here is not a matter of coincidence but of a Mayweather Team-inspired attempt to head off the possibility of a fix that would have Mayweather lose a close decision and force a second, equally lucrative fight in September. As difficult as it might be for today’s typical, wide-eyed boxing fan to understand and appreciate, the business of boxing has always been done in the shadows and always at the expense of fighters and the so-called little man who buys the ticket.
Paul Magno, a brilliant observer of the fight game, linked below under “The Boxing Tribune,” suggests that there are many reasons one might assume a fix is in. Each one of them can be reduced to, and defined by, the prospects of making another Powerball-esque killing in September. One has to remember that boxing is about money first and foremost, while established relationships and loyalty are secondary. The powers-that-be, he argues, see Mayweather as a used-up commodity and if forced to choose between Mayweather keeping his undefeated record and getting its hands on millions of dollars in revenue, the choice becomes obvious. Hence, as Money May is networked into the powers that be, word from inside is that he and his father are concerned about a possible fix being in for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, one that effectively forces him into playing the bluff he and his father are now playing.
When a young Cassius Clay beat what appeared to be a very fit and ready Sonny Liston in 1964 he turned the world on its head. He was not supposed to beat the heavily favored and very dangerous Liston. In the rematch, the by-now Muhammad Ali, knocked Liston down in the first round with what has come to be known as “the phantom punch.” While the punch clearly connected and clearly knocked Liston down, Liston’s comical and poorly choreographed attempt to get up left many claiming that the fix had been in. Years later Liston, in a growing mood to talk, was murdered Las Vegas by a hitman with purported ties to the mob.
While the Ali-Liston example is one of the more famous possible fixes, one simply has to sit down with some of the more honest old-time trainers and they will regale one with stories of fix-after-fix-after-fix. A good example of an era suggestive of heavy-handed, organized crime-influenced, fixing was that of none other than Rocky Marciano himself. In high irony, it is Marciano’s record of 49-0 that Floyd Jr. is close to tying then exceeding if he beats Pacman then fights into September and beyond.
Marv Jenson, late trainer and manager of middleweight champion Gene Fullmer and heavyweight contender Rex Layne used to regale his young and very green fighters with the story that as he and Layne were eating breakfast in the hotel prior to the fight, the waiter served up an orange juice that had a distinct after-taste to it. Thinking nothing of it both manager and fighter left the table and went about their business in preparation for the fight. Later both started feeling a bit off as their critical thinking skills and mind-body control were apparently adversely affected. Layne went on to lose by knock-out to Marciano as he fought in a relative fog and Jenson was left bitter by the experience and never really felt the same way about Marciano.
While there is no objective proof that the Mayweather-Pacquiao fix is in, Team Mayweather and associates are concerned enough with a possible fix by forces beyond his control that Money May is now in full-bluff mode. Camp insiders confirm again that in the event of a Mayweather loss, despite his public comments to the contrary, a second fight will surely be ordered up as Money May will seek to avenge his loss. Any talk of immediate or imminent retirement at the expense of a second MayPac fight is the stuff of bluff by a man who up until now, has felt supreme confidence in his ability to control his destiny.
Commentary By Matthew R. Fellows