By Jason Keidel
I’ve somehow morphed into your Manny/Mayweather correspondent. Or Mayweather/Manny correspondent.
The scary part is that that matters. In the endless nuance, childish pride, and politics of the most-publicly and endlessly negotiated sporting event in human history, semantics matter. More than the money, more than the fight, more than legacy. But it’s time for the clowning to stop, and it’s time to sign the fight. If you think of it, has anyone ever worked so hard to not make $120 million?
We were told Manny balked at rabid, rampant drug testing. Then he agreed. Still no fight.
We were told Mayweather wanted more money than Manny. Then he agreed. Still no fight.
We were told the dueling cable entities couldn’t get along. Then Showtime and HBO figured a way to do a dual broadcast. Still no fight.
We were told Mayweather had to be the A Side. Then Manny agreed to be the B Side. Still no fight.
We were told the two met in Miami, on a basketball court. Then the meeting spilled into Manny’s hotel suite. Still no fight.
We understand the dynamic of the tease. Radio and television hosts assure us they’re about to drop a bomb on us AFTER the commercial break. Job done. We’re sufficiently frothing, wiping the drool from our collective chins.
Now we’re hearing that the deal is all but done. The only thing missing is the mystical signature of Mr. Mayweather.
As is always the case with this supreme Alpha Male, Mayweather wants to announce it, at his time, on his turf, and his terms.
To paraphrase the iconic Nike mantra, Just Do It, Floyd. We’ve been amply teased and tormented. Millions of Americans are ready to jam the PPV button to the tune of a record $80 to $90 per consumer. You’re assured $100 million minimum, and up to $140 million.
You’ve got the A Side you so lusted for, the top perch on the glittering marquee. You got Pacquiao to concede every point, including weight, date, town, time, and testing. He’s even agreed to your exact contours of the leather gloves.
So if you must ride in on a lion, like Katy Perry, leap from a helicopter, or roller blade down Las Vegas Boulevard with bricks of cash taped to your body, just do it. Please.
It’s not only Manny Pacquiao who needs this fight. You need it. And we need it. Maybe Pac Man owes the IRS half his check, but you owe us this fight, Floyd. And you owe it to boxing, the sport that made you obscenely rich, plucked you from the slums of Grand Rapids and plopped you into your McMansion. The sweet science gave you the wealth and women and conga line of luxury cars.
And you’ve earned it. While most fighters plunge down the trap doors of celebrity, you remain sober, clean, and cogent. You’ve climbed into endless rings and the rungs of capitalism, emerging undefeated, at least inside the squared circle.
Life has tried to teach you a few lessons. You’ve made a few appearances on the police blotter, spent some time behind bars. But that’s almost pro forma in pro fighting. And we’d like to think you’ve gleaned some knowledge, inhaled some humility. Signing this fight will show us you’ve grown up.
Boxing has always been the street salvation, where some avuncular professor takes the class clown and turns him into world champ. In this case, the avuncular figure is indeed your uncle. You’re talking to your dad again. You view the world from the high orbit of limitless wealth. You should be placing the cherry on top of your delicious legacy.
But that can only happen if you fight Manny Pacquiao. If you can’t think of a reason to do it, we can think of 120 million reasons. Just do it, Floyd.
Jason writes a weekly column for CBS Local Sports. He is a native New Yorker, sans the elitist sensibilities, and believes there’s a world west of the Hudson River. A Yankees devotee and Steelers groupie, he has been scouring the forest of fertile NYC sports sections since the 1970s. He has written over 500 columns for WFAN/CBS NY, and also worked as a freelance writer for Sports Illustrated and Newsday subsidiary amNew York. He made his bones as a boxing writer, occasionally covering fights in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, but mostly inside Madison Square Garden.