The Top Rank-Golden Boy war is back at full blast after another disastrous round of negotiations for a Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight. Of course, the Mayweather side, with public comments from adviser Leonard Ellerbe and Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, denies negotiations ever took place.
Top Rank's Bob Arum, Pacquiao's promoter, insists they happened and was backed up by HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, who said he served as the go-between for Arum and Al Haymon, Mayweather's other adviser, who, as usual, remains silent.
Maybe Ellerbe and Schaefer, like me, are big fans of the TV show "Dallas," and they have no recall of the negotiations because they've had a Pamela Ewing-like dream. Whatever. It is clear there were negotiations of some kind, because Greenburg, the most credible source in this whole mess, has absolutely no reason to lie. None, especially when his statement backed Arum, with whom he's had a very bumpy relationship. Schaefer and Golden Boy are far more aligned with HBO and Greenburg than Arum, so for him to go out of his way to support Arum, you have to believe it's true.
And believe me, when Greenburg put out his carefully crafted statement the other day, he specifically used the word "negotiating." He didn't say "talking" or "discussing" or "having conversations." He meant "negotiating." Greenburg is a savvy man with an experienced media relations staff at his beck and call, so make no mistake that when he used the word "negotiating" in his statement, it was on purpose.
Does anyone other than the most blindly loyal Mayweather sycophant really believe there were no negotiations?
Greenburg said in his statement, without naming Haymon specifically, that he negotiated with a Mayweather representative since May 2. So let me get this straight -- for more than two months Greenburg spoke with (in all likelihood) Haymon and Arum about making the fight, and Haymon never told Mayweather, Ellerbe or Schaefer? Yeah, right, especially when you consider that Ellerbe told me this week that he talks to Haymon "10 times a day."
It's impossible to fathom that Haymon forgot to mention that he was negotiating a $150 million fight to his most important client. It's also stunning that Schaefer and Ellerbe continue to deny the negotiations' existence. It defies logic and common sense. Not that a crime has taken place here, but the episode reminds me of the old saying about how the cover-up is worse than the crime.
If there really were no negotiations, why wouldn't the Mayweather camp have nipped this in the bud, especially after Arum began shooting off his mouth about the negotiations being complete on June 30? Instead, Ellerbe waited until two days after the Arum-imposed deadline to say anything. At any time, Mayweather could have released a statement saying he had no plans to fight for the rest of the year. End of story. Instead, we got another bizarre episode on the way to eventually (hopefully) making boxing's biggest fight.
One of the nasty byproducts of this whole mess is that we shouldn't count on seeing any Top Rank fighters face Golden Boy fighters while their battle rages.
They've been through this before in an even nastier dispute over Pacquiao's promotional contract, among other lawsuits, a few years ago. They finally settled the suits using a mediator, which led to an uneasy truce and some really big fights, including Miguel Cotto-Shane Mosley, Pacquiao-Marco Antonio Barrera, Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez II and Pacquiao-Oscar De La Hoya.
But that's all shot to hell again. Emboldened by Greenburg's statement of support, Arum has laid into Schaefer and De La Hoya, the Golden Boy president.
Arum called Schaefer a liar for saying there had been no negotiations. Schaefer challenged Arum and Greenburg to take lie detector tests. (Good idea! I'd buy that on pay-per-view!)
As for Arum calling him a liar, Schaefer told me, "I take this kind of false statements and personal attacks on my reputation very serious. Arum has to be very careful in his comments. I have referred the matter now to Judd."
Schaefer was talking about bulldog attorney Judd Burstein. It's never a good sign if you have him on your back.
Arum also blasted De La Hoya, who weeks ago went on a talk show on Spanish-language network Univision and spoke somewhat at length about how the fight was close to being finalized. When confronted by reporters this week at a press event promoting Saturday's Marquez-Juan Diaz HBO PPV rematch, De La Hoya recanted.
Arum was all over that, too.
"Schaefer saying there were no negotiations has made Oscar look like the fool of all fools," Arum said. "Oscar was out there speaking the truth, that there were negotiations. Now when Schaefer says there were none, Oscar is saying that, too. He's not a bright guy. He can't keep his story straight. Who is he kidding? It's not like he made a quick comment about the negotiations on Univision. He made lengthy comments. It's unreal."
What is even more unreal is that Pacquiao-Mayweather, with public demand at a fever pitch and tens of millions of dollars there for the taking, is not happening in the fall because Mayweather refuses to take it, or even acknowledge the negotiations.