Stephen Espinoza: Mayweather-Pacquiao talks have a long way to go
Although ongoing negotiations for a May 2 clash between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao “are making progress,” according to Stephen Espinoza, the Showtime Sports executive said, “we’ve got a long way to go” during a Thursday interview with RingTV.com.
“We’ve all agreed that we’re not going to get into the details and to negotiate through the media,” said Espinoza, the network’s sports executive vice president and general manager. “But what I can say is that we are in discussions, and we are making progress. We’ve got a long way to go, and significant open issues to overcome. But we’re making meaningful progress, and we’ll continue to work at it.”
During a Wednesday interview with RingTV.com, Sam Watson, right-hand man to Mayweather’s adviser, Al Haymon, said “I believe that it’s going to happen” in regard to Mayweather-Pacquiao taking place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“Floyd wants to fight Manny. It’s no secret,” said Watson, in the wake of news that Pacquiao has agreed to his side of the terms and that the Filipino fighter expected Mayweather to do the same “before the end of this month.”
“I’m not aware of whether he has or whether he hasn’t, but in the larger sense it doesn’t matter” if Pacquiao has agreed to terms, said Espinoza. “We either have a deal for the fight or we don’t.”
“It’s sort of irrelevant whether pieces of the deal are done. We’re running a race, and we want to get to the finish line,” said Espinoza. “If we don’t get to the finish line, then it’s not much of a consolation that we got two thirds of the way there. We want to reach the finish line and we’ve got a bit more running to do.”
Mayweather is aligned with Showtime, having fought four of six bouts thus far to satisfy a multi-million dollar agreement he signed with the network and its parent company, CBS Corporation.
Officials from Showtime and HBO, the latter of which has televised most of Pacquiao’s fights, have reportedly discussed a joint venture between the networks similar to that which facilitated the fight between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson in June 2002.
Lewis scored an eighth-round stoppage victory over Tyson in the bout. Lewis and Tyson were affiliated with HBO and Showtime, respectively, at the time. Key aides are reportedly working for Mayweather and Pacquiao, with CBS Corporation Chief Executive Les Moonves bringing the two sides together.
According to a report by ESPN.com, Espinoza was part of a Wednesday afternoon meeting in New York that included HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler, HBO Sports President Ken Hershman and Showtime chairman and CEO Matt Blank.
Among the details discussed were which of the network’s announcers would call the fight and which network’s ring announcer would handle the fight, Showtime’s Jimmy Lennon Jr. or HBO’s Michael Buffer, according to the report.
“I guess that they’re going to do a Showtime-HBO fight like they did the last time with Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson,” said Watson on Wednesday. “They’re working on all of the money now and they’re probably working on everything that they need to do to make it happen. I would love to see it. I can’t wait. I believe that it is going to happen and that it’s going to be huge.”
Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 knockouts) is reportedly agreeable to the demands of Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) of a 60/40 split of the purse in favor of the undefeated fighter, as well as the site and a drug-testing protocol.
“We’ve agreed to the terms and once Floyd signs off, then the fight is on May 2. We can’t discuss any of the terms,” said Michael Koncz, Pacquiao’s adviser during a Jan. 13 interview with RingTV.com. “I can’t discuss what went on during our conversation. All that I can disclose is that we’ve agreed with Floyd’s representative and that now we’re waiting for Floyd.”
A potential conflict arises in regard Mayweather-Pacquiao and negotiations for a May 2 HBO Pay-Per-View bout between RING/WBC middleweight champion Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez, the RING’s No. 1-rated junior middleweight behind RING champion Mayweather.
Alvarez has agreed to his side of the terms and is awaiting the same from Cotto, according to Golden Boy Promotions President Oscar De La Hoya.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum met with Pacquiao on Thursday in Los Angeles, according to a report by The Las Vegas Review Journal.
“I explained everything to Manny, and he’s comfortable with everything, including Plan B if this doesn’t work out,” said Arum, according to The Review Journal. “I’m not going to get into that [Plan B]. Right now, our focus is on Mayweather. We’re waiting on him.”
Whether or not Mayweather-Pacquiao is made, Espinoza said Mayweather is set on fighting that Saturday, which is the weekend of the Mexican holiday of Cinco De Mayo.
“I can’t speak to that fight itself, but I do know that Floyd is fighting on May 2,” said Espinoza. “That is absolutely clear. There is not another date that he’s considering. So whether it’s Pacquiao or someone else, Floyd will be fighting on May 2.”