On June 9, Manny Pacquiao will enter a boxing ring at the MGM Grand Garden on the Las Vegas Strip to fight Timothy Bradley.
About seven miles away, Floyd Mayweather likely will be sitting in the South Tower of the Clark County Detention Center, alone in a 6x10-foot cell in the isolated protective custody unit, according to jail officials. He'll have nothing but a metal toilet, sink and stool, a couple small slits of window and a humble bunk.
His cocoon of yes men – the paid employees and hanger-ons of "The Money Team" that affirm whatever dismissive expression he makes about Pacquiao – won't encircle him there.
Mayweather begins an 87-day sentence June 1 for domestic battery of an ex-girlfriend who is also the mother of three of his children. He ought to spend the time contemplating how to get his personal life in order because he's defying all odds by earning maybe $40 million one month (for defeating Miguel Cotto last Saturday) and joining approximately 3,400 inmates of the county jail the next.
When it comes to Mayweather's professional life, boxing fans can only hope the time surrounded in silence will allow a man with ADD think about what his future holds, what his legacy demands and how now, more than ever, is the time to make the necessary accommodations for the fight with Pacquiao to happen.
It's not Mayweather's fault that he hasn't fought Pacquiao. He's not the villain when it comes to this topic. The blame also doesn't fall exclusively on Pacquiao or his promoter, Bob Arum, who has a particularly acrimonious relationship with Mayweather.
Everyone owns a share of the blame. Everyone can also move toward a compromise, to swallow a bit of pride or adhere to the common sense that comes from common ground.
Presuming Pacquiao can get past Bradley next month – and that is certainly no sure bet – then the circumstances, including Mayweather's incarceration, may help the fight of the century actually take place.
Mayweather appears to value three things in this world: money (and the respect he believes it provides), his health and his standing among boxing's all-time greats.
He doesn't lack for cash. He smartly assumed greater control over his own finances a few years back, doesn't have a leeching promoter and deftly played up the "Money Mayweather" persona (he used to be "Pretty Boy Floyd") that helped turn a largely defensive, light-hitting welterweight into the game's biggest box-office draw.
His post-career health is why Mayweather has always been correct to demand strict testing for performance-enhancing drugs, and for challenging Pacquiao to meet it (Arum says he will). PEDs are one thing when the result is a 500-foot home run. It's another when someone can be killed.
Mayweather knows he's on the verge of beating the fight game, which rarely loses. He's made hundreds of millions of dollars, and thanks to his ability to dodge a punch – particularly big ones – he's taken relatively few blows during his 43-0 career.
[Kevin Iole: Pickings are slim for Mayweather Jr.'s next ring foe]
There's a good chance he could retire without long-term health issues, especially any kind of head trauma.
"My health is more important than anything," Mayweather told Yahoo! Sports Kevin Iole last week. "Guess what? When my career is over, if I'm hurt, or something is going on, because something has happened in a fight, I can't come to you and say, 'Yo, I need you to pay my rent for this month. I need you to pay my bills for this month. I need you to pay my car note. I need you to put my kids through school.' "
Then the smart thing would be to retire, fabulously wealthy and in full control.
That's where legacy comes in. Mayweather says he sees himself as a top 10 fighter of all time, if not the greatest. Few others would agree and history certainly won't if he fails to face, let alone defeat, the other great champion of his era.
Mayweather's legacy won't be complete without fighting Pacquiao; it will haunt him forever, be brought up forever and be counted against him forever. There will always be a portion of fans that say, fair or not, that he ducked Manny.
Mayweather lives in a bubble where he and only he is the greatest, where Pacman is constantly disparaged, where if Mayweather wants to say not making the fight is a good idea, everyone will agree. Even Mayweather says the only person who doesn't need anything from him is "50 Cent," who was already rich and famous when they became friends.
Perhaps those hours alone in jail will make him realize what's real, what's ego and what's standing in the way of the only fight that can bring Mayweather the credibility he so desperately covets.
Mayweather is expected to spend the "first week or so" locked in his cell for all but one hour a day. He'll get out for exercise, but even that occurs alone, according to Marcus Martin of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department. It's called isolated protective custody and it's reserved for high-profile inmates such as Mayweather.
If there are no problems, he'll eventually get to regular protective custody, where he'll get "several hours" a day with other protective custody inmates. He won't be anywhere near the general population.
[Martin Rogers: Mayweather eschewed a strip club at 3 a.m. to train for Cotto]
He also won't be in the middle of his usual bubble of worship, or his endless array of toys and diversions. There's nothing to do but think.
In the end, the Pacquiao fight will come down to money, which Mayweather already has and would certainly earn in abundance. It is here where he can and should bend.
As sure as Pacquiao needed to give into Mayweather's PED-testing demands, Mayweather needs to offer Pacquiao something close to a 50-50 split.
Instead, he wants Pacquiao to accept more money than the Filipino champion can get fighting anyone else (say, $40 million). Mayweather believes he's entitled to the rest.
This is a fight that could approach $300 million. Seriously. It's a likely two million-plus pay-per-view buys (Mayweather-Oscar de la Hoya did 2.4 million). They may charge $100 a pop for high definition (it was $70 for the Cotto fight). That's $200 million before the live gate, sponsorships, merchandise, hosting fee, closed circuit and on and on.
And there could always be a rematch.
Pacquiao has said he'll take less than 50 percent. Maybe in that jail cell Mayweather will realize that something that could be close to 80-20 isn't reasonable. Offer 55-45, fall back to 52-48. We could still be talking about $150 million for Mayweather.
If they decide to try to make the fight soon, and give the proper build-up time for a November date, the value of having Mayweather out of communication can't be understated. Rather than dealing with Arum directly, rather than calling Pacquiao or tweeting Pacquiao or speaking out in the press, Mayweather would be behind bars, muzzled and removed from every little machination that can set him off.
It'll be his advisors, Leonard Ellerbe and Al Haymon, that will be talking to Arum. Mayweather will be locked in the South Tower.
There's too much at stake for Mayweather to not make a move here. He can have his money. He can assure his safety from PEDs. And he can take a chance on securing his legacy, silencing forever critics who demand he still needs to prove himself against Manny Pacquiao.
Away from the echo chamber, alone inside those walls, maybe, just maybe, it will sink in that pride isn't everything, that in these negotiations it isn't about right or wrong, it isn't about blame or credit.
It is just time to be the bigger man. It is just time for the biggest fight.
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