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HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg released a four-paragraph, five-sentence statement Monday which cast doubt upon the veracity of Floyd Mayweather Jr.; Mayweather's best friend, Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe; Golden Boy Promotions president Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer and which forever eliminated any doubt about Mayweather's intention: He's ducking Manny Pacquiao.
There can be no other rational explanation.
Welcome to "Mayweather in Wonderland," where they try to convince you that up is down, the grass is blue and the sky is green. Never mind that Mayweather has tarnished, perhaps forever, his legacy as one of the best boxers of all time. Given his disinclination to fight Pacquiao, it's hard to regard him as the best fighter of his own time.
Mayweather was nowhere to be found on Monday, still on vacation, apparently oblivious to the millions of boxing fans desperate to hear a word about his intentions. If Mayweather cared about his legacy, if he cared about the sport that has made him rich and famous, he wouldn't have been invisible the last few weeks while allowing Ellerbe to spew a lot of mumbo jumbo.
Mayweather and his cronies attempted to insinuate that Top Rank chairman Bob Arum was being deceitful when he said he'd been negotiating for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight with Greenburg serving as the middle man. Greenburg and Arum have not had the strongest of relationships, while Greenburg has an extraordinarily cozy relationship with Golden Boy. If Arum were lying, their frequently contentious history together suggests that Greenburg would have called him on it immediately.
Greenburg, though, clearly sided with Arum, when he said, in part, "I had been negotiating with a representative from each side since May 2nd … "
That's what Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, has steadfastly claimed for weeks. On June 30, Arum told Yahoo! Sports that "all issues were resolved" and that the only outstanding matter was whether Mayweather wanted to fight in 2010 or 2011. Arum then set a July 16, 11:59 p.m. deadline on Mayweather to accept the deal. On a conference call in the early morning hours of July 17, Arum announced the deadline had passed without word from Mayweather and that he was pursuing a fight for Pacquiao with either Antonio Margarito or Miguel Cotto.
Ellerbe, though, released a statement on July 19 that was the beginning of the end for Team Mayweather's credibility. Ellerbe disputed that talks had even taken place. "Here are the facts," the statement read. "Al Haymon, Richard Schaefer and myself speak to each other on a regular basis and the truth is no negotiations have ever taken place nor was there ever a deal agreed upon by Team Mayweather or Floyd Mayweather to fight Manny Pacquiao on November 13. Either Ross Greenburg or Bob Arum is not telling the truth, but history tells us who is lying."
That led many in the media to quickly assail Arum's credibility and for Schaefer and De La Hoya to issue self-righteous comments backing Ellerbe and denying negotiations had ever taken place.
And they would have won this silly game had it ended there and had Greenburg not entered the fray. Arum insisted he was telling the truth, but few seemed to believe him. They didn't, that is, until Greenburg released his brief, simple, but truly remarkable statement.
In it, he said, "Fights like Mayweather vs. Pacquiao are significant because of these fighters' ability to connect with sports fans around the world. It's unfortunate that it won't happen in 2010. I had been negotiating with a representative from each side since May 2nd, carefully trying to put the fight together. Hopefully, someday this fight will happen. Sports fans deserve it."
Here's what sports fans deserve: They deserve better than to waste their hard-earned money on "Money," who acts as if he's invented the sport. Mayweather's a brilliant talent who never seems to let one forget it, who behaves as if he should be able to dictate terms and others should gratefully accept it because he said so.
Let him play in his fantasy world. Boxing doesn't need him. And, truth be told, he's wrong about his value.
Mayweather has sold more pay-per-views against common opponents than Pacquiao and his gates for those fights have been bigger. But Pacquiao's Nov. 14 bout with Cotto at the MGM had a far greater economic impact upon the city of Las Vegas than either of Mayweather's and the Nevada Gaming Control Board attributed casinos' best performance in 22 months in November 2009 to the presence of the Pacquiao-Cotto bout and the high-rolling Asian gamblers who spent loads of money.
Despite apparently being caught red-handed when Greenburg released his statement, Ellerbe's only response on the record was, "I hear his statement and I stand by my statement." But he then attempted to insinuate that comments Mayweather made at a June 2 Make-a-Wish event in Las Vegas should have been taken by the media that he never planned to fight Pacquiao this year.
"At this particular time, Floyd Mayweather is taking probably a year off, a couple of years off from the sport of boxing," Mayweather said at the charity event. "I don't really know what the future holds for Floyd Mayweather at this particular time, but I'll probably take a couple of years off."
Saying one "probably" is going to take a year off is a lot different than releasing a statement or holding a media conference and announcing one's retirement. Yet, Ellerbe attempted to intimate that Mayweather's statement to sports director Chris Maathuis of KLAS-TV in his gym at a charity event was a definitive announcement.
What muddied the waters even more was De La Hoya apparently lying to Univision on June 11. In a televised Spanish-language interview, De La Hoya said of a potential Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, "I think right now we are very, very close in finalizing the contracts. I can't talk right now in detail about the negotiations but I will say that we are very close."
The comments caused quite a stir when they were made, but Schaefer dismissed them. He insisted De La Hoya had been misquoted. But when those pesky reporters actually went and had Spanish experts translate the recording, it turned out that De La Hoya wasn't misquoted.
So the Golden Boy tried a different tactic on Monday. He told Robert Morales of BoxingScene.com, "I think I said it because I get the question so many times that, obviously, I was fed up and tired of it and I just said like, 'Yeah, yeah, it's gonna get made.' "
Essentially, De La Hoya on Monday admitted to lying on June 11, though it's uncertain how his June 11 comments would have helped end the questioning he wanted to avoid. Given that he said a deal was close, that would only seem to make the scrutiny greater, no lesser. Had he said there were no talks – which he's now insisting is the truth – and that the fight was not going to happen, no one would have had reason to keep asking him.
No one is going to ask any more. How can anyone support someone with Mayweather's arrogance, who cares so little about the fans who made him rich beyond his wildest dreams that he won't even consider the fight they want more than any other?
Mayweather has run from his biggest challenge. The fans, even those who have ardently supported him through the years, will surely remember that. And the next time he dares to compare himself to one of boxing's all-time greats, such as Sugar Ray Robinson or Sugar Ray Leonard, they'll scoff.
He can't hold a candle to either.
- Floyd Mayweather
- Oscar De La Hoya
- Manny Pacquiao