The success of his fights on pay-per-view over the last seven-plus years has given Floyd Mayweather the kind of clout within his sport that few athletes in any sport enjoy. When Mayweather says jump, virtually everyone in boxing asks how high.
He loves playing the puppet master and making people wait and bend to his will.
That's what one can do after appearing in the two biggest pay-per-view fights in history and being the unquestioned No. 1 draw in the sport.
At one point, Oscar De La Hoya was in that position. The six-division former world champion, now the president of Golden Boy Promotions, was the sport's biggest star when he agreed to a deal to fight Mayweather, who then was only breaking into pay-per-view.
Mayweather had fought three times on pay-per-view prior to facing De La Hoya, and those bouts sold slightly over 1 million units combined. He did 369,000 buys against Arturo Gatti; 378,000 against Zab Judah; and 320,000 against Carlos Baldomir.
For years he wanted to fight De La Hoya to prove his superiority, but didn't get the chance. For one thing, De La Hoya was trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr. for many of those years, and De La Hoya's public stance was that he didn't want to disrespect Mayweather Sr. by fighting his son.
But when negotiations commenced in late 2006 for a De La Hoya-Mayweather bout, nearly all of the leverage was on De La Hoya's side. De La Hoya told Yahoo Sports on Friday that he believes Mayweather now holds the leverage in talks to fight Pacquiao, but said the situations aren't exactly the same.
"I think when I fought Mayweather, I got an 80-20 split," the Golden Boy told Yahoo Sports by telephone from Mexico City, where he is traveling on business. "You have to remember, at that point, Mayweather was not really an established pay-per-view star and I was. The leverage at that point was all on my side. I had been selling a lot of pay-per-view for a long time and so I had the upper hand.
"But it's different with Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, in my opinion. Manny Pacquiao, let's be honest, he's already a pay-per-view star, too. He's done big numbers. So it's not the same in my opinion as it was when I was negotiating to fight Mayweather because of that. If you look at Mayweather's numbers closely, I think you have to set aside the fight with Canelo [Alvarez, which did 2.2 million sales] because that was a special case and after that, they're pretty close in what they sell, even if Mayweather is a little ahead of Pacquiao."
That's probably why Mayweather has reportedly agreed to a 60-40 purse split in a fight that could wind up paying him $120 million or more. Pacquiao has done over a million on pay-per-view several times and is a guaranteed draw, even if he's not at the same level as Mayweather.
But by putting them together, it makes a mega-pay-per-view that wouldn't be able to be done if either of them fought anyone else. An online sports book already set the over-under for Mayweather-Pacquiao pay-per-view sales at a staggering 3.15 million. At an expected price of $100, that will generate in excess of $315 million in pay-per-view revenue, more than double the existing reord of $150 million set by Mayweather and Alvarez in 2013.
De La Hoya is not part of the negotiations and said he doesn't know what is being discussed or even who is at the bargaining table.
However, he said he thought that a commonly held belief in the industry, that Top Rank CEO Bob Arum's public comments are hurting the talks, is off-base.
"Bob is a smart guy; a very smart guy," De La Hoya said. "He knows what it takes to make a big fight and how to put a big fight together. If he's talking [publicly], he must think there is a good reason to do it. That's how I see it. I don't think that should have any [impact upon] the negotiations."
De La Hoya does have a vested interest in the talks. He promotes Alvarez, who plans to fight James Kirkland on May 2 on HBO in San Antonio. However, if the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight happens, De La Hoya said he'll move Alvarez-Kirkland to May 9.
But that would be the only way, he said, he'd consider moving Alvarez off May 2.
"I want to be very clear and straightforward about that," De La Hoya said. "Canelo is fighting on May 2. Period. Now, if the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight happens, that's the fight we'll move for, and we have May 9 on hold for that. But that's it. Otherwise, no matter what else may go on on May 2, Canelo will be fighting Kirkland in Texas on that date. You can bank on it."
Mayweather plans to fight on May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, whether it is against Pacquiao or another opponent.