Friday, January 18, 2013
Mayweather deal drags on
By Dan Rafael
While Floyd Mayweather Jr. is expected to return on May 4, the exact details have yet to be finalized.
I can't look at my Twitter or Facebook pages without seeing a variation of one single question being asked dozens of times per day -- every day -- for about the last two months, back to when pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., through adviser Leonard Ellerbe, announced he was going to fight May 4 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The question goes something like this: What's up with the Mayweather fight?
Here is what's up: He still plans to fight on that date, there is no official opponent just yet (and when there is you can be sure it will be covered on ESPN.com) and there is no date set yet for the official announcement.
In other words, it's status quo and not an issue, Ellerbe told me when we spoke on Thursday evening.
"Any time you're talking about tens of millions of dollars it's always a process," Ellerbe said. "Floyd is the biggest thing in sports, so when he comes out, he's coming out with a bang. So we don't rush to do anything.
"But we are going on May 4 and it's going to be a spectacular event."
Clearly Mayweather, who holds titles at welterweight and junior middleweight (and remarkably has been allowed to keep both for many months, contrary to sanctioning body rules) will be fighting either interim welterweight titlist Robert Guerrero or junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
My money is on Guerrero getting the fight.
There's been a lot of discussion about Alvarez perhaps being on the May 4 undercard. My belief since all this began is that the only way Alvarez would agree to go on the undercard is if he had a done deal to face Mayweather in the fall (he also said he will fight in September), as long as they both win in May.
If that is the case, these are complicated deals to finalize. In essence, Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer, the point person putting everything together and the promoter of Guerrero and Alvarez, would be doing deals for multiple fights: Mayweather-Guerrero, terms of a rematch in the event Guerrero wins, Alvarez's undercard fight (and, no, I don't think it would be against titlist Austin Trout) and the fall Mayweather-Alvarez fight, not to mention terms for that rematch clause.
You can see why it might take a while to get this all nailed down, especially since Schaefer has been out of the country for most of the past two weeks.
It could also be a situation where Mayweather is negotiating deals with Guerrero and Alvarez simultaneously and using the leverage of both wanting to fight him to get the deal with his preferred opponent exactly how he wants it.
Ellerbe, poker player 'til the end, wasn't giving up anything.
"We don't have a timeline [for an announcement]," Ellerbe said. "Everybody is working hard at doing what we need to do be able to move forward on May 4 and it's a lot of work."
If history is any indication, you can count on an announcement by the Super Bowl, because the promotion will want to kick off with the fighters heading to the big game to angle for attention from the media throng.
Another aspect of the fight that has not been announced is which television company will handle the pay-per-view: HBO, Mayweather's career-long home, or Showtime, which is now closely aligned with Golden Boy and badly wants Mayweather. My money is on HBO retaining Mayweather's services but who knows? Mayweather's people could be playing them off each other to get the exact deal he wants.
Whatever is up with the business side of things, Ellerbe said Mayweather is not yet in serious training, but that he's been in the gym.
"Floyd has been around the gym," Ellerbe said. "He stays around the gym and keeps his body in great condition."
The fight will be Mayweather's first since May 5, 2012, when he outpointed Miguel Cotto in a terrific fight to win a junior middleweight belt.