It’s almost a perfect story.
Manny Pacquiao’s rise to the top of boxing’s food chain deserves nothing but respect and admiration. He started from the very bottom, born to low-income parents in the Philippines, and he didn’t get much of a chance to enjoy the innocence of youth. At the tender age of 14, Pacquiao decided to take on the world on his own, electing to live on the streets, joining the estimated 1.5 million homeless children in the Philippines, often going to sleep on an empty stomach.
Then he found the sweet science.
Manny turned out to be a natural, quickly making his way through the amateur ranks, earning a sponsorship from the Filipino government. He’s been even more successful as a professional, securing titles in eight divisions, racking up victories against the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, and Miguel Cotto, making it to the top of boxing’s pound-for-pound rankings.
It’s an inspiring story of how dedication and perseverance can get one far in life, but there’s only one problem.
“Money” has been an annoying thorn in Pacquiao’s side, tarnishing the Filipino congressman’s once lofty standing with the boxing media.
It started when the two sat down in 2009 for the first time, hoping to organize a fight. Both sides came to an agreement on virtually everything concerning the fight, from purse splits to glove size. Then, what seemed like a harmless request for Olympic style drug testing (OSDT) from Floyd officially kicked off the Mayweather-Pacquiao saga.
“Manny says, ‘I’m not going to let them take my blood whenever they want when I’m getting seriously ready for a fight. They can take all the urine they want,'” Pacquiao’s promoter, Bob Arum, explained. “My fighter feels uncomfortable with that and feels that would weaken him. I know if I deal with an organization that deals with pro athletes we can agree to the protocol. He’ll give them blood but he wants to know it will stop at a particular point. He wants the fight. But he’s a proud guy. He won’t be pushed around by this guy [Mayweather].”
It was one of the most bizarre excuses in boxing history given how rare it is for a professional athlete to balk at drug testing.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there.
Pacquiao’s camp followed up with a meaningless ultimatum thrown at Mayweather, then, they took their peasant-manipulation tactics to a completely different level when the two sides tried to organize the elusive super-fight in 2012.
Mayweather, who was dealing with legal issues at the time, had the MGM Grand booked for May 5, and he made it clear getting Pacquiao inside the ring with him was his top priority.
When it appeared Mayweather’s sentence would prevent him from making the date, Pacquiao and his handlers couldn’t stop talking about the bout. Manny claimed he was so determined to get something signed, he offered to take a smaller revenue split just to make the fight happen.
Then, a judge postponed Mayweather’s sentence, clearing the way for the super-fight, and the excuses started flowing shortly after.
First, Arum argued that a cut Pacquiao suffered during his 2011 bout against Juan Manuel Marquez might not heal in time for the fight.
“What if they fought and Manny started bleeding on the first punch?” Arum told ESPN’s Dan Rafael. “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.”
Then, Arum said he was worried about Mayweather getting licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the same sanctioning body that has licensed Floyd for every single one of his fights since 2006.
“I don’t even know if Mayweather will be licensed [by the Nevada State Athletic Commission] before he serves his time,” he added.
The third excuse was just as outlandish as Arum claimed the MGM wasn’t big enough for the super-fight. Then, Pacquiao refused to take anything less than a 50/50 split when Floyd offered him $40 million, bringing their last round of serious negotiations to an end.
Now, Pacquiao and his handlers are up to their old tricks once again. The Filipino congressman recently called Mayweather out, challenging him to fight for charity, as if he’s in any position to dictate what Floyd should do with his earnings.
Fortunately for Pacquiao, he has developed a cult-like following over the years, so there will never be a shortage of folks defending his actions.
Unfortunately for the Filipino Senior Master Sergeant, the history books won’t be as kind. His heart will forever be questioned because of his reluctance to fight Mayweather, especially given the fact he doesn’t have much to lose at this point. Manny has already lost to lesser men than Floyd on multiple occasions, so another loss on his record won’t mean much.
The fact is: Manny Pacquiao needs Floyd Mayweather, not the other way around.
Since their last round of serious negotiations, Mayweather has racked up wins against Miguel Cotto, Robert Guerrero, and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, setting a new record for the highest grossing pay-per-view fight in boxing history during his lasting outing, generating over $150 million.
Pacquiao on the other hand has gone 1-2 since then, with his only victory coming against Brandon Rios — who was coming off a loss. According to Forbes, Manny’s failure to organize the super-fight has already cost him approximately $100 million, more than enough to pay off the reported 68 million he owes in back taxes.
More importantly, his reluctance to organize the super-fight against Mayweather has significantly diminished his credibility with boxing experts and hardcore fans.