For all the talks about a Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown since 2009, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have never shared the same stage nor talked to each other face to face. That finally happened on Tuesday night when the two fighters attended the same NBA game.
By Chance or Destiny?
American Pound For Pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a regular during Miami Heat games, so it was no surprise that he was seated next to the Heat bench when the team hosted the Milwaukee Bucks last Tuesday night at the American Airlines Arena. But the sight of his rival Manny Pacquiao seated directly across from him on the opposite sideline was totally unexpected.
The Filipino boxer Pacquiao was in Miami this week to grace the annual Miss Universe pageant last Sunday as a judge. His entourage was set to depart to New York after the pageant, but with the blizzard that hit the Northeast ( and cancelled New York NBA games earlier this week), they decided to stay in Miami for a few more days. Pacquiao, being a fan of the NBA and being a professional basketball player/coach in his home country, decided to watch a Miami Heat game since he is also friends with Heat coach Eric Spoelstra( who is of Filipino descent).2
And so it happened: the first time ever that the two rival fighters met face to face. Whether by purpose, chance or destiny, Mayweather and Pacquiao finally talked to each other without their respective promoter or adviser who have always been their respective mouthpieces.
During the halftime break, Mayweather approached Pacquiao and the two had a very civil discussion. The talk was a private conversation between them but for two fighters whom the world has long so waited to face each other in the ring, they were surely not asking about how their Christmas holidays went nor how their children or spouses were doing. Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz was there, listening first hand and looking just as awed as the Miami crowd was. Mayweather did a lot of the talking while Pacquiao listened intently and replied with words of his own. The two were seen exchanging mobile phone numbers and presumably, that wasn’t for the purpose of becoming text buddies. Hours later, the pair hooked up again at Pacquiao’s hotel room where according to Koncz, they talked seriously for about an hour. Again, it was presumably not about going fishing together in the near future.
The camps of Mayweather and Pacquiao have been engulfed in “serious” talks for more than a month now since Mayweather publicly told the world during a Showtime interview that he wants to fight Pacquiao on May 2. It was the first confirmation from Mayweather that he actually wanted the fight to happen, even if the world has been talking about it since 2009. Never has the talks been this serious since that first negotiation which fell apart because of drug test issues. A couple of weeks ago, the Pacquiao camp said they had agreed to Mayweather’s demands. And while the Money Man of boxing has been mum about his take, the chance encounter on Tuesday was a booster.
A Critical Encounter
The meeting was a critical encounter for their proposed May 2 bout since Pacquiao has publicly said that he wants a deal by the end of January, citing the time constraints for the preparation of both the fight and promotions. His camp has even been reportedly eyeing former stablemate and British superstar Amir Khan as their Plan B on May 30 should Mayweather refuse to sign for the fight. Mayweather has remained silent on the issue, preferring adviser Al Haymon to negotiate silently with Top Rank’s Bob Arum and CBS CEO Leslie Moonves who has been their middleman.
Aside from those that Pacquiao already agreed on, Mayweather had two more demands: the choice of broadcasters and the promotional fighter documentaries. Mayweather wanted the Showtime broadcasters to do the fight and he was also concerned about the potential clash between Showtime’s All-Access and HBO’s 24/7 on who will do the pre-fight documentaries. According to Koncz, those issues were ironed out on Wednesday with Arum, Monves and HBO CEO Richard Plepler. Koncz said Mayweather brought out no other issues during their hotel talk.
Let’s Get Ready To Rumble
Koncz refuses to further elaborate on the details of their meeting. As usual, Mayweather is elusive to the media except when he said last week that he will be naming his May 2 opponent very soon. He didn’t even hint that it would be Pacman. For his part, Pacquiao has repeatedly said that he has agreed to all the conditions of his opponent and that he has shown his sincerity by accepting that he is the B-side of the negotiations. After their chance encounter in Miami, Koncz believes that Mayweather is truly 100% sincere about making the fight happen.With both fighters finally on the same page and negotiating directly without their middlemen mouthpieces, this is as close as we’ve ever been.
It’s been a long, tiring and sometimes boring topic to talk about. But with the heavens unleashing a force of nature like a blizzard to let these two protagonists meet by chance, we are definitely much closer to hearing Michael Buffer say “Let’s get ready to rumble”.