Commentary

Blame Arum for no Pac-Floyd fight

Updated: January 7, 2012, 3:41 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Floyd Mayweather Jr. was supposed to report to the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas on Friday to begin serving an 87-day jail sentence for a domestic violence guilty plea related to a September 2010 incident with his ex-girlfriend, who is also the mother of three of his children.

However, Mayweather's attorney, Richard Wright, argued that because Mayweather had already committed to a May 5 fight at the MGM Grand -- and, as Wright emphasized, because that event has been projected to generate more than $100 million for the local economy -- Mayweather should be allowed to put off his incarceration until June 1.

That was the date Wright suggested in order to give Mayweather time to recover from whatever bumps and bruises he might suffer in the fight.

Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa, who sentenced Mayweather late last month and put off his report date until Friday, bought Wright's argument -- undoubtedly, the economic impact of a Mayweather fight on Las Vegas had to have been a serious consideration -- over the state's weak and unorganized argument that the fighter should be jailed Friday, and ruled in Mayweather's favor.

Leonard Ellerbe, one of Mayweather's advisers, offered a statement to ESPN.com on the situation: "We are pleased that the judge granted postponement of his surrender date so he could fulfill his commitment to Las Vegas to deliver his promised megafight and the economic benefits it provides to the community."

So now Mayweather will fight on May 5. Ellerbe said the fighter's team would be discussing the opponent in the coming days, with an announcement expected next week.

But guess who Mayweather won't be fighting?

You guessed it: Manny Pacquiao.

And the soap opera -- one I am sick to death of -- continues.

They should be fighting, of course. They should have fought a couple of years ago. Maybe even twice by now. And there is no reason whatsoever for them not to fight on May 5.

It looms as boxing's richest fight ever, and the public has demanded it for the past few years. But forget the public, right?

Neither guy is getting any younger, and it's a rarity for the two best fighters in the sport -- two of the greatest of all time -- to be fighting in the same division in the same era.

But their summit meeting hasn't happened, and with every day that goes by, I think the chances of it ever happening are less and less.

Friday's turn of events made that pretty clear. There have been previous negotiations and lots of rhetoric. At various times throughout this whole ordeal, I believe both sides have been to blame.

But at this moment, the fault of a fight not being made falls squarely on the shoulders of Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who, in my view, simply doesn't want to make the match at a moment when there seems to be no legitimate impediment.

[+] EnlargeMarquez/Pacquiao
Harry How/Getty ImagesPromoter Bob Arum says Manny Pacquiao might not be healed from his November battle with Juan Manuel Marquez in time for a May date with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Arum doesn't want to match his cash cow, Pacquiao, with somebody he doesn't control, and he has no control over Mayweather. He once did, but that was years ago, before their nasty breakup.

Arum is also a smart boxing guy, as are his matchmakers, Brad "Abdul" Goodman and Bruce Trampler. They know Pacquiao would be the underdog, especially given how he looked in his controversial majority decision win in November against Juan Manuel Marquez, whom Mayweather thoroughly dominated when they fought in September 2009. Arum and his people know there is a strong possibility Pacquiao will lose if he ever fights Mayweather.

If Pacquiao did fight Mayweather and lose, he could certainly go on. But at this stage of his career, a loss might send Pacquiao deeper into politics in the Philippines, where he is already a congressman, and that would mean no more Pacquiao fights -- or at least only sporadic fights -- for Arum to make millions on.

It was just this week that Arum said he would go to the Philippines to meet with Pacquiao and present him with the names of four possible opponents for May or June: Miguel Cotto, Marquez, Lamont Peterson and Timothy Bradley Jr.

Arum figured Mayweather would be in jail and off the table. Now that Mayweather is available and seemingly would like to make the match, Arum suddenly isn't interested.

He used the lame excuse of the cut Pacquiao suffered against Marquez, saying he might not be ready for May. (I've never heard of a cut taking more than six months to heal.) However, earlier this week, when Arum thought Mayweather would be on ice behind bars, he said there was a good possibility Pacquiao would fight in May.

Moments after Mayweather was granted the continuance, Arum changed his tune.

"We're fighting in June, one of the four guys," Arum told me over the phone.

I asked him, now that Mayweather was available, would he at least be part of the conversation when Arum meets with Pacquiao next week?

A perturbed Arum's response was, "Absolutely not. Nope."

Come again? You won't even talk about it with Pacquiao, I asked very politely.

"My mission is to go over to the Philippines and talk about these four guys," Arum said. "If Manny feels he wants to go in May, he will tell me. I want to make sure Manny's cuts are healed. We won't fall under this kind of pressure. June is much more likely for Manny's fight, not May."

So May was a real possibility yesterday, but now there's no way?

"What if they fought and Manny started bleeding on the first punch?" a clearly flustered Arum said. "I don't know if Manny is available to fight in May. I have no idea. I haven't talked to him; I haven't seen him. Seems to me, June is more likely based on what his plastic surgeon said."

Arum threw out another "reason" (or excuse, as far as I'm concerned) not to try to make Pacquiao-Mayweather for May 5.

"I don't even know if Mayweather will be licensed [by the Nevada State Athletic Commission] before he serves his time," Arum said.

It would seem to me that if a judge would free Mayweather to make a megafight in Las Vegas, with the economic impact of the fight being a major reason for the decision, then the commission -- political appointees -- would understand what a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight would mean to the community.

In other words, with the amount of money it would generate for the desperate local economy, there is no way the commission wouldn't license Mayweather to fight Pacquiao or anyone else on May 5.

[+] EnlargeAlvatez/Cintron
Etzel Espinosa/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsSeveral candidates will be considered as Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s next opponent if Manny Pacquiao declines, but Saul Alvarez appears to be the clubhouse leader.

My view is that with no Pacquiao fight, Mayweather, a welterweight champion, will wind up fighting junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, who is promoted by Golden Boy, Mayweather's de facto promoter for his past five fights.

I could also see another Golden Boy fighter, Robert Guerrero, who has been heavily campaigning for the fight, being a possibility, and maybe, just maybe, junior middleweight titlist Miguel Cotto, who apparently is a free agent from longtime promoter Top Rank and could go his own way.

But Alvarez seems most likely to me. He is one of Mexico's biggest stars and wants the fight. He said on his Twitter page Friday, after speculation began following the delay in Mayweather's incarceration, that he was "muy listo" for the fight. Translation: Very ready.

May 5, of course, is the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo, a traditional date for a big Mexican fight -- and none would be bigger on that date than Mayweather-Alvarez.

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer wasn't tipping his hand.

"We have certain names in mind, and I will sit down next week with Team Mayweather, and we will be discussing those names," he said.

Then Schaefer ripped into Arum as the impediment to making a fight he claims Mayweather and Golden Boy have wanted all along.

"I don't think Manny Pacquiao wants to be on that list of names for Mayweather, or Bob doesn't want him to be on the list," Schaefer said. "I am sick and tired of Arum's bulls---. First Bob said June is when Pacquiao would fight, when Floyd was going to be on May 5. Then, when it looked like Floyd wouldn't be available in May, he said Pacquiao would be available in May. Now, since they know Mayweather is going to fight in May, suddenly Pacquiao is going to fight in June.

"I'm tired of all those people saying it is Mayweather who doesn't want the fight. Arum knows who to call. He can pick up the phone and call me and say, 'Let's get a fight done with Pacquiao.' The rest of it is bulls---. The rest can go drink the Arum and Top Rank Kool-Aid. It is Arum who doesn't want the fight to happen, end of story."

I agree with Schaefer.

Dan Rafael is a boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.