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Larry Merchant on The State of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

By Chris Robinson

As I woke up this Monday morning I still had the excellent Super Bowl XLV game in my mind between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The matchup was a captivating one, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers holding off the Steelers 31-25, and an interesting sidenote to the festivities was highlighted when it was revealed that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and flamboyant Floyd Mayweather had actually been enjoying the game together as they were guests of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Although Arum claimed the two didn't discuss any boxing-related topics whatsoever, including a potential fight between Floyd and Filipino star Manny Pacquiao, you couldn't help but hope for the best to come from this newfound union. Arum promoted Mayweather from 1996 through 2006 before Mayweather left to pursue other avenues and the two have seemed to be against each other in the public's eye ever since.
 
I had been talking to HBO's color analyst Larry Merchant about the Packers victory, one in which he claims Rodgers elevated his team, and couldn't help but to ask him about his thoughts on Arum and Floyd mingling once again. Little did I know that one question would lead to the type of conversation we had, with Larry giving his reasoning for each man's mindset at this point, the business sense that Floyd possesses, why he feels Mayweather has avoided challenges in the past, and much more.
 
Continue reading for all of Larry's thoughts in this week's edition of 'HBO's Larry Merchant'...
 
Business and pleasure...
"Mayweather will go wherever the biggest bucks are. If he thinks that he has to cozy up to Arum and vice versa, because of the potential size of a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, than that's what they are both doing. Arum has had co-ventures with Don King, even though they are often bitter enemies, because it made sense for them. And at the end of the day it's business. I don't know the nature of the kind of deal Golden Boy has with Mayweather. They have promoted his recent fights. But why would anybody be surprised that Mayweather would do whatever he thinks he has to do to make the fight except sign the contract?"
 
Whether Floyd's legal troubles will affect a potential fight against Manny Pacquiao...
"I can't really speak to his legal troubles. I think that he has dodged the law in the past in Las Vegas. I think the law would like to catch up to him. I don't know the merits of the case. I just read that it was moved to April, the next hearing, and I don't know. What I do think I know, is that the longer it doesn't happen, the more likely it is that it won't happen or that it won't be as big as we thought that it would be. As good as we think that Pacquiao is, he's a fighter. And there's nothing that says he can't lose to somebody that we don't think he can lose to. The longer you wait, the more likely that is to happen."
 
Floyd separating his business interests from the fans' interests...
"I think beyond a doubt he ducked them (Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito, and Paul Williams).  I was once told by one of his inner circle 'Don't even bring up the name Margarito in his presence'. That was becasue he saw a path in which he could avoid those fighters and make the biggest bucks possible. He avoided Margarito because he didn't want to take a chance that it could get in the way of a De La Hoya fight. He didn't want to fight Cotto because, when he came out of his brief retirement, he knew that Marquez was an easy fight and a popular fighter among a segment of fans. He's been able to separate his business interests from the interests of the fight fans in terms of the opponents."
 
How bad Arum wants to see Pacquiao-Mayweather...
"I think he would like to see it happen because it would be such a gigantic event and he would make a lot of money on it. Hell, if it was a close fight or a good fight, they could do it again. At the end of the day he's a promoter and as he always puts it, 'I'm in it for the Benjamins. Long before Benjamins were called Benjamins he was in it for the Benjamins. And if he's able to make deals with Don King and he talks out of both side of his mouth, what else is new? This is what he does, this is what promoters do, for whatever is convenient at the moment. If he doesn't want to make a fight with a particular promoter, he will find a reason why the fight shouldn't be made. If he want to make a fight with a fighter he has feuded with in the past because he thinks the time is right, he will do that."
 
What promoters do...
"That's what promoters really do. It's not about principal with an 'al', it's about principle with an 'le'. A feud with another fighter or another promoter serves you as long as you see it's not in your business interest. When it's not, the feud is magically over. There are any numbers of examples of that over the years. With Arum and with other promoters, they will stomp their feet and stand on principle and tell ya how bad the other guys are and how dumb the television people. As soon as they have a chance to make some money, everybody is brilliant and great to do business with."
 
The nature of professional sports...
"I don't think that anybody can get to be as good as Mayweather is without loving what he does in some way. Because the guy has been a dedicated professional. And nobody has ever said he hasn't been in shape. But at the same time he's a businessman, an entrepreneur. And that's what fighters are. That's what professional athletes are. They love you, they love the town they play in, and the fans and the managers and everyone else until somebody else offers them more money. It's the nature of professional sports, especially today. What I'm saying is, it's not mutually exclusive. And yes, he's ducked guys because he didn't think they were in his best interest at the time. Best interest being business wise."
 
Floyd's concern towards a Pacquiao fight...
"I never thought that he was afraid to fight Pacquiao. I've always said that I think he's concerned. I think it may be the first fight he's ever anticipated that he's not 110% sure that he could win. I think that underlies some of his anxiety and some of the crazy things he's said. But that doesn't mean that he is afraid to get in the ring with him. I mean, he would probably be the favorite. All I'm saying, again, is that these things are not mutually exclusive. You can go on a business track and go on an athletic track at the same time."

Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. An archive of his work can be found here, and he can be reached at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by GRUSTLER on 02-09-2011

[QUOTE=SekondzOut;10080233]Floyd's fanbase on here consists of a few dudes I like and respect....but how can you dudes say Shane ducked Floyd with the tooth thing?!?... KNOWING that Oscar wanted the first dibbs and Floyd's "0" because he was feeling the…

Comment by MindBat on 02-09-2011

[QUOTE=Chopper417;10075976]I don't know what the heck is going on lately but my God there has been some VERY strange things happening. Kahn firing Ariza, rumors of Manny firing Ariza, Arum and Manny leaving HBO, Roach admitting he actually wanted the…

Comment by Mr. Philadel on 02-09-2011

Floyd's fanbase on here consists of a few dudes I like and respect....but how can you dudes say Shane ducked Floyd with the tooth thing?!?... KNOWING that Oscar wanted the first dibbs and Floyd's "0" because he was feeling the…

Comment by chaos on 02-09-2011

[QUOTE=Leonf96;10075528]Everybody hating on Mayweather becaus he's seemingly ducking Pac but truth be told, he'd probably be the favorite imho. He'd have a reach advantage, a height advantage, and size advantage. You add that to the guy's superior technical skills and…

Comment by GRUSTLER on 02-09-2011

[QUOTE=letsgobrady;10078425][B]i do think so,i don't know why a man who had no significant wins at the time was considered such a threat to some of you fans[/B],most of you probably didn't even know margo before arum started sayin that floyd…

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