Monday, August 15, 2011
By: Rich Mancuso
There was Floyd Mayweather Jr. on a stage at the Hudson Theatre in New York City. His next opponent, the WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz said his piece about their upcoming title fight at the MGM grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View September 17th. It was a Mayweather we have not been accustomed to knowing.
Besides the fact we had to wait over an hour for his grand arrival at a press conference that would top a Star Wars movie premiere, it was Mayweather holding court as fans cheered in the balcony area ,and the media who came out for a typical new school type of press gathering continued to wait. No questions asked at the podium, just Mayweather giving his account of the issues that have kept him out of the ring the past 16 months.
Never discount what Mayweather says, or for what he does. They said he is the best pound-for-pound- fighter in the business, but until he exchanges punches with Manny Pacquiao that issue will always be open to debate. However, when Mayweather returns it is always a production. The fight is being billed as “Star Power” to also promote what Ortiz has accomplished and will also be televised at closed circuit venues.
So disregard all the talk that Mayweather is avoiding Pacquiao. We waited for the anticipated first of a two-city press tour. Wednesday they take the production to Los Angeles, because Mayweather is holding his own forum. And if you could get a question or two in, when the proceedings were over, good luck. Mayweather was protected on the stage as he was bombarded with those who say they were media, and some of the imitators who claim they are.
There is the overall consensus if Maywether wins this fight, and if Manny Pacquiao holds his end of the bargain in November, against Juan Manuel Marquez, then the anticipated fight with the two becomes a reality. Not right away. Because Bob Arum, promoter of Pacquiao may have other plans for Pacquiao to fight Mike Jones after Marquez, and Ortiz, promoted by Golden Boy should not be counted out until the last punch is thrown in September. Adding to the puzzle is Mayweather and Arum still at opposite ends in their verbal war.
Here is Mayweather talking like he never did before. There wasn’t that trash talk, instead compliments thrown at his opponent. His children were at the podium, though a few obscenities, unexpectedly, came from the mouth of Ortiz, maybe because this was the first time the champion was in the spotlight and he seemed to be enjoying the moment.
But those who saw Mayweather heard the difference. It may be psychological games what he said about the Pacquiao fight, why he has stayed away from the ring, because of family responsibilities. His adviser, Leonard Ellerbe refused to discuss all the legal proceedings surrounding Mayweather, saying “We focus on the business part and the boxing part. We let the attorneys handle the legal stuff.”
As Bert Sugar, boxing writer and historian said, “It was Mayweather on the couch talking to a psychologist and we listened and we should get some of his money for listening.” No kidding, it was Mayweather explaining where he is and what is taking so long to get a fight going with Pacquiao. We wanted the answer and perhaps it has become clearer.
“It’s not just Pacquiao, it’s sports period,” said Mayweather referring to the steroid issue. He and Ortiz have agreed to drug testing under the United States Anti-Doping Agency protocol which includes random blood and urine testing. That was what Mayweather and Schaefer insisted when the proposed fight with Pacquiao was scrapped. Since then litigation and defamation suits have not been dropped by Pacquiao, regarding allegations about Pacquiao from the Mayweather camp.
More from Mayweather about the steroid issue, and take it the way you want. “If you look at sports in the Olympics they’re cheating, everyone is cheating. And I never once said Manny Pacquiao was cheating. Only thing I said was this: Me and any other opponent I face must take the test.”
“I have never said that Manny Pacquiao was taking steroids. I never said he was taking enhancement drugs. I want to fight the best they got out there, not just him (Pacquiao) and if he’s on the list as one of the best guys, then absolutely. Do I want the Pacquiao fight, absolutely if that’s what the fans want.”
Two things here form the statements. If Mayweather can tell an audience how he feels about Pacquiao, then why could he not do that by failing to show for a court ordered deposition that still hangs in the balance? And if he believes Pacquiao is on the list as one of the best, why did he take on Ortiz now, which leads to more legitimacy that Mayweather has been ducking Pacquiao and all this steroid stuff was nonsense.
Though, there is hope. The first time, Richard Schaefer CEO of Golden Boy was at war with Arum. They came to a truce and seem to be in more contact and looking again to have a good working relationship. Mayweather respects Schaefer and is co-promoting, Mayweather Promotions, and that was evident Tuesday afternoon at a press gathering that lasted more than four hours.
Schaefer is also at peace that he and Arum are talking. It may be a part of business that boxing has been accustomed to seeing over the years, but either way, it makes it that much easier this time for Schaefer to be a part of the Pacquiao-Mayweather talks or involvement.
“It is good for boxing,” commented Schaefer when asked about his truce with Arum.” We have to work together. We are all in this together. Floyd said what he had to say today. Let’s get the Ortiz fight over with and go from there. Victor is a fine young man and deserves this opportunity.”
Mayweather returns to the ring for the first time since defeating Shane Mosley in May of 2010. And that froum, what Sugar compared to him talking to a psychologist, also questioned why the media continues to attack Mayweather. His kids are older and they understand, so he said, that their father is under attack for things that are not true.
Mayweather said, “When you’re young, black and rich, you go through things in life. But I’m a strong individual. I can survive through anything.” But to be fair about the Mayweather situation, he causes his own demise, and the media, those legitimate to tell it, are doing their job as accurate reporters do.
For Ortiz, this is the opportunity, a champion now and looking to defend his title. He wanted to fight the best, whether it was Pacquiao or Mayweather. “I realize he is a great fighter,” said Ortiz. “I always said I wanted to fight Mayweather one day as champion of the world and check it out… It’s crazy.”
Yes Ortiz is the success story here and Mayweather will always be in the discussion with Manny Pacquiao. But Ortiz had the remark of the day before Mayweather had his time. “I’m fighting Pacquiao next. I’m the champion of the world and I’m not giving that up.”
And Mayweather has to remember that he is not the champion. Did the tide change with his remarks? That remains to be determined. At least we know the fight may be getting closer with Pacquiao, or is it?