By Steve Kim
On Tuesday morning a press release was sent out by Top Rank announcing that Manny Pacquiao had signed a contract extension with the company that will expire on Dec. 31, 2016, at which point Pacquiao will be 38 years old. It will most likely mark the end of what has been a remarkable career that saw him come to the States in 2001 as a little known Asian fighter and leave the sport as an international superstar.
But many are bemoaning this new deal as the death of a potential bout between he and Floyd Mayweather which has been talked about seemingly ad nauseam since late 2009.
Pssst, I'm here to tell you something: It didn't die when Pacquiao's signature went on the dotted line this week -- that fight died long ago.
In fact, odds were against that fight from the very beginning.
And it didn't have anything to do with drug testing protocols, the venue in which the fight would be staged -- where Bob Arum had grandiose plans of erecting a temporary stadium in Las Vegas -- or the financial split between the two parties.
The bottom line is that 'Money' Mayweather was/is never going to do business with his former promoter, Arum. Mayweather chafed at how he was promoted under the Top Rank banner and bought his way out of the contract in 2006 and has gone onto become the most famous and lucrative prizefighter on the planet. And through it all, he has never hid his animosity towards Arum.
There have been lawsuits and Mayweather has flat out stated in the past he would never partake in any transaction with him or his company. And Arum, who's never run away from a verbal spat, has compared his former client to Hitler.
There has been plenty of posturing the past few years with each side basically engaging in a smear campaign against the other to gain public support as they both made multi-millions by not facing one another. Which was one of the reasons why they never actually needed to fight; being boxing's 'one-percenters' meant they were able to cash in by effectively never getting into the ring at the same time because of their separate drawing power.
Now, the game is to tease the public about the mere possibility of them hooking up down the line. It's the oldest and newest trick in the promotional book, 'Yeah, we're not giving you the fight you want, right now. But we might give it to you in the future. So buy this one and THEN we'll talk about making the big one."
But there's also this not-so-little factor: The two sides couldn't come together on this deal when they were both fighting under the HBO banner. Now, Mayweather is in the midst of his much ballyhooed six-fight deal with Showtime that isn't set to expire till the end of 2015. Top Rank and Pacquiao are firmly committed to HBO. (And yes, you can bring up the 2002 bout between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson that was in effect co-televised by the two premium cable networks but boxing insiders will tell you that Showtime was looking to cash out of their exclusive deal with 'Iron Mike' and Tyson, who had a line of creditors -- including Showtime -- and needed the fight to help relieve his huge financial debts. This dynamic doesn't exist here.)
Since 2007, Mayweather has faced nothing but boxers (save for Miguel Cotto) who had an association with Golden Boy Promotions and from 2009 Pacquiao has for the most part taken on foes who were promoted by Top Rank. They have largely operated, very successfully, mind you, in two alternative universes. And they will continue to do so. Although Pacquiao might be breaking out of that bubble as Golden Boy is going through a good deal of internal strife that sees a power struggle between it's owner, Oscar De La Hoya, and CEO Richard Schaefer, with De La Hoya promising to once again co-promote with Top Rank. Meaning that his clients such as Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysse could perhaps be paired with Pacquiao in the near future.
Mayweather has announced that he will be returning to the ring on Sept. 13 against a yet-to-be-determined dance partner and Pacquiao is slated to return to the exotic locale of Macao in mid-November where he may or may not face arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez for the fifth time.
Well, it will be business as usual.
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Steve Kim began covering boxing in 1996 and has been writing for Maxboxing.com since 2001. He is also a regular contributor for Boxing News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he tweets (a lot.)