The Casualties Of Boxing’s Cold War



It’s starting again. Can you hear it?

Shortly after Manny Pacquiao avenged his highly controversial loss to Timothy Bradley, the ground started shaking once again with rumblings of a Mayweather-Pacquiao super fight. No, it’s not reaching the Richter scale breaking peaks it did several years ago, but it definitely has resurfaced.

The problem is, it’s just not going to happen anytime soon. The blame has been pointed at the individuals, but there are far deeper issues than just two men accepting a fight. It’s a political and economical stalemate that is known as boxing’s version of the Cold War where the two sides refuse to work with each other. And its casualties extend beyond the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight the world has been clamoring for.

For those who are not in tune with the day to day warfare between HBO/Top Rank Promotions and Golden Boy/Mayweather/Showtime, the past week has made it perfectly clear that the two sides are nowhere near finding common ground.

During the Pacquiao-Bradley 2 final press conference at the MGM Grand, Bob Arum took aim at the casino for its lack of promotional material for his fight in lieu of the MGM being heavily blanketed Mayweather-Maidana propaganda despite the fight being nearly a month away. After Arum introduced MGM executive Richard Sturm as the “president of hanging posters for the wrong fight,” the Top Rank Promotions CEO took the gloves off and threw multiple jabs at both the MGM Grand (where Mayweather has fought for the past seven years) and the fight itself.

“They would know what fight they have scheduled in three or four days and they wouldn’t have a 12-to-1 fight all over the building that’s going to take place in three weeks,” Arum bristled, clearly taking a shot at the May 3 fight that Mayweather will be an overwhelming favorite in. “That’s why one company [the Venetian] makes a billion dollars a quarter and the other [the MGM] hustles to pay it’s debt.”

The ire of Arum carried over into the post fight press conference as he deflected responsibility for his part in the super fight not happening while also firing shots at Showtime, where Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather fights are broadcast.

“Write all you want about 15-1 fights with no-hopers and all this thuggery,” Arum said while conveniently increasing the odds to emphasize his point. “We’ll give you quality fights. HBO will give you quality fights. But you want to close your eyes to thuggery in this sport.” But between his borderline racist undertones was a halfhearted plan that Arum somehow believes could work to make the fight happen.

“The only people that can make Floyd Mayweather fight Manny is the public, if they boycott the nonsense on May 3,” Arum said. “That’s what the public should do. [If the media] want that fight, tell the public not to buy pay-per-view and not to buy tickets. There is no other [strategy]. We are prepared tomorrow to sit down at a table with his people … to work out the conditions for the fight.” If it sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is. But it is yet another reason why the two sides are worlds apart on a compromise. This isn’t the first time, nor will it be the last, where fights fall apart because two sides cannot sit at the table and hash out their differences for the good of the sport and the fans who love it. Both sides will continue to blame each other, but will accept no responsibility for their role in this stalemate.

Although there was hope that HBO and Showtime networks wouldn’t be dragged into the poisonous fray, once Mayweather signed his record breaking six-fight 30-month deal last year that would see him fight exclusively on Showtime, all bets were off. A month later, HBO severed ties with all Golden Boy Promotions fighters in retaliation and the split effectively created two independent boxing leagues. Recently, HBO lost Adonis Stevenson to Showtime and effectively put the brakes on a highly anticipated showdown with knockout artist Sergey Kovalev. Stevenson opted to sign a management deal with Al Haymon — whose client list includes a majority of the fighters on Golden Boy Promotions’ roster as well as Floyd Mayweather – which effectively made him a Showtime fighter. What’s interesting about this scenario is that neither Top Rank nor Golden Boy promotes either fighter.

That’s just one of many fights that won’t materialize in the near future. You’ll won’t likely see Adrien Broner vs. Timothy Bradley, Amir Khan vs. Juan Manuel Marquez, or Lucas Matthysse vs. Ruslan Provodnikov, to just name a few.

So what you have now is a mess of reasons that prevent the world from getting the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight it has deserved for the past half decade. If you’re a fighter, you have to take all of these things into consideration before inking a deal with a promotion company. If you sign with Top Rank, you’ll be on HBO and the Holy Grail is a fight with Manny Pacquiao. If you go with Golden Boy, Showtime will be the place you call home as you sit and hope that Floyd Mayweather calls your lottery number.

It’s the ugly politics of boxing that overshadow the brilliance of the sport. Normally, the idea is for the best to go against the best, but that’s no longer the case in boxing. And it is evident when you look at Floyd Mayweather’s options, as he will seemingly coast through his last few fights of his illustrious career. The upcoming fight with Marcos Maidana isn’t just an option; it was pretty much the only option, as the pool of worthy talent grows shallower by the day.