By Jake Donovan
Given the length of time that boxing’s ‘Cold War’ between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions has existed, it came with great surprise earlier this week that the two biggest stateside promoters were in talks to stage a major event. A report by Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times stated that Bob Arum and Oscar de la Hoya - presidents of Top Rank and Golden Boy, respectively – have begun talks for a possible showdown between box office stars Manny Pacquiao and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
The news was significant in that de la Hoya, who spent most of his pro career under the Top Rank banner before forming his own promotional company, even called out his own staff in his own efforts to help thaw tension between the two companies. The former six-division titlist insists that there is business to be made and that anyone at Golden Boy who still harbors ill will towards Top Rank needs to change their way of thinking.
Even if Arum and de la Hoya have rekindled their working relationship, there exists several problems with believing such a fight will happen. Alvarez, who is coming off of a 10th round stoppage of Alfredo Angulo, is already set for a pay-per-view headliner, a dangerous challenge at that as he faces Erislandy Lara on July 19.
Pacquiao, who regained his welterweight title with a revenge win over Tim Bradley earlier this month, has yet to reveal plans for his next fight. There have been talks of a fifth fight with Marquez, a third fight with Bradley or perhaps a Top Rank-promoted or affailiated fighter in the 140 lb. division moving up in weight.
With that in mind, it makes sense for Top Rank to throw Alvarez’ name into the mix, since they are on the verge of running out of fresh and intriguing matchups for the wildly popular Filipino.
The suggestion of such a fight caught a major buzz among the boxing industry, but not everyone is buying it. Chief among the skeptics is Floyd Mayweather Jr., a former Top Rank fighter who has been on his own since late 2006. The reigning welterweight champion, pound-for-pound king and the sport’s biggest attraction, is preparing for a May 3 showdown with Marcos Maidana, which takes place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
With a win, Mayweather – who will have three fights left on his contract with Showtime - will be on the hunt for an opponent for a planned September ring appearance. One fighter he knows it won’t be, is Pacquiao, whom he also doubts will fight Alvarez or anyone else outside of Top Rank or its affiliation.
“I don't think Pacquiao and Canelo are going to fight,” Mayweather firmly believes.
Pacquiao is an integral part of the Cold War between the two biggest stateside promoters, dating back to his initial intention sign with Golden Boy in 2006 before reversing field and signing a long-term deal with Top Rank.
There was a break in the ice in 2007 and through most of the rest of the aughties, when the companies teamed to put on the biggest events the sport had to offer. The deal didn’t last very long; Pacquiao’s last fight involving Golden Boy came in May ’09, knocking out Ricky Hatton in two rounds to become the first in history to win lineal World championships in four separate weight classes.
Since then, it has been a feast of Top Rank fighters, or free agents whom eventually signed with the Vegas-based company. There were talks of a showdown with Mayweather - which would have easily been the most lucrative in boxing history - but fell apart during at least two legitimate rounds of discussion, only further fueling the longtime standoff between companies.
For that reason, Mayweather – who has fought exclusively versus Golden Boy fighters dating back to his 12-round points win over de la Hoya himself, in the most watched pay-per-view event in boxing history – isn’t buying the suggestion that the two sides will make this fight happen anytime soon.
However, if by chance it gets made, the welterweight king believes he know how it will play out.
“Me personally, I don’t think the fight will happen. If it does, I pick Canelo to win,” Mayweather suggests. “But I don't think it'll happen.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox