I'm not entirely sure what to make of the whole Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. negotiations/non-negotiations thing. All I do know is that I have lost sleep over it, which is what a 3 a.m. Saturday conference call with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum will do.
Arum has insisted over and over that he was negotiating a deal with Mayweather adviser Al Haymon, with whom he has a horrific relationship, using HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg as an intermediary. Arum swears by it. He said it to me before the conference call. He said it on the conference call to the world media. He said it to me and others in separate interviews after the call.
Arum has a long history of playing fast and loose with the truth, which is nothing new to anyone who follows or covers boxing. But this would be an all-time whopper. If he is lying, it means he not only threw Greenburg under the bus, it means Arum was the bus driver.
Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's other adviser and the one who speaks for him publicly -- Haymon fears the media more than Mayweather apparently fears Pacquiao -- said no negotiations ever took place.
Ellerbe put out a statement, the only official word we've heard from Team Mayweather during this whole childish saga.
The statement read, "Here are the facts. Al Haymon, Richard Schaefer and myself speak to each other on a regular basis, and the truth is no negotiations have ever taken place nor was there ever a deal agreed upon by Team Mayweather or Floyd Mayweather to fight Manny Pacquiao on November 13. Either Ross Greenburg or Bob Arum is not telling the truth, but history tells us who is lying."
I've known Ellerbe for a long time. As far as I can tell, he's not the lying type, although he still owes me dinner.
But I don't know who to believe in this case.
It seems almost inconceivable that throughout the past couple of months, when it appeared negotiations were taking place, that nobody from the Mayweather side would simply shoot it down when asked about it point blank.
Hey, if Mayweather wasn't interested in the November fight, for whatever reason, so be it. But come clean instead of holding the boxing world hostage again. Don't lead everybody on and get fans' hopes up. Mayweather doesn't owe boxing anything, but he does owes all of us who have put millions in his pocket by buying his pay-per-views at least a little common courtesy.
Schaefer, the Golden Boy CEO who has promoted Mayweather's last several fights, has been one of the chief game players if there really were no talks, because he absolutely made it seem clear that talks were going on, time and again. Why else would he talk about a so-called "gag order" in discussing negotiations publicly?
I'd ask him about it and he'd say stuff like, "Talking about the negotiations isn't going to help get the fight made, so I'm not going to talk about them." He'd also say, "Come on, stop asking me about the negotiations. You know I am not going to talk about them."
This happened multiple times per week during the past couple of months. I'd call him, not even about Mayweather, and he would say "no comment" and start laughing before I could even ask him anything, because the whole thing had become so ridiculous.
Make no mistake: He absolutely led all of us to believe there were discussions taking place, and that was before Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya went on national television a couple of weeks ago and said the fight was indeed close to being made.
So when De La Hoya is out there acknowledging talks and Schaefer is using phrases like "the negotiations" or "talk about them," he clearly implied that talks were ongoing, even if he didn't want to get in to specifics. But why play games? If they weren't going on, then Schaefer was as disingenuous as Arum, if Arum was lying.
And why would Ellerbe wait until three days after Arum's insane conference call (which Ellerbe contends was to announce that the deadline had passed for negotiations that were nonexistent)? Isn't that like closing the barn door after the horse ran away?
By putting out a statement after the fact, Ellerbe strains the credibility of the remarks, because the Mayweather camp could have nipped this in the bud two months ago instead of playing us all for chumps.
Ellerbe also called out Greenburg in his statement, saying that either he or Arum was lying. The reason is because Arum said Greenburg had steadfastly reported back to him his conversations with Haymon about the deal while Greenburg was supposedly delivering Arum's messages to Haymon.
Greenburg knows the truth. Unless he was lying to Arum about having discussions with Haymon, Greenburg knows if he was an intermediary for real talks. Yet Greenburg won't speak up, declining comment to me through e-mail and again through HBO spokesman Ray Stallone.
Is Greenburg really going to sit there and allow Arum to continually put him at the center of a massive controversy? Will he remain silent while Ellerbe publicly questions his integrity? Greenburg doesn't have to divulge secret details, but why not address it? Either Greenburg was negotiating a deal as an intermediary or he wasn't.
The Pacquiao and Mayweather camps have spoken. Now it would be nice to know what Greenburg knows and who is telling the truth.