Believable or not, Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s version of his serendipitous Jan. 27 meeting with Manny Pacquiao is an entertaining yarn.
Mayweather (47-0, 26 knockouts) recounted events Tuesday after making a grand arrival at MGM Grand Garden Arena, site of his Saturday showdown against Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) in a fight certain to eclipse boxing revenue records.
Although negotiations by promoters, managers, network officials had moved Mayweather and Pacquiao toward the reality of a fight delayed for more than five years by a series of disputes, their chance meeting at a Miami Heat game while sitting opposite each other courtside helped clinch the deal.
Mayweather said he recalls looking up and telling his friend, “Oh [wow], Manny Pacquiao’s here.”
Minutes later, Mayweather said he was approached by Pacquiao’s business manager, Michael Koncz, who said, “Manny wants to take a picture with you,” according to Mayweather.
Mayweather said he declined, calling Koncz a liar. He said he told Koncz, “Years ago, you said you [were] in control, not [Pacquiao promoter] Bob [Arum], that’s what you told me, you haven’t been a man of your word … so that’s a no-go.”
Mayweather sat back in his seat, stewed and decided to walk back across the Heat court at halftime to confront Pacquiao, who had gone along with Arum’s reporting that the boxer had signed a contract that was only awaiting a Mayweather signature.
“Show me a screen shot of the signed contract,” Mayweather said he told Pacquiao, in a moment that was captured by fans on camera phones and later blew up Twitter.
“He said he signed paperwork, so I said, ‘You might’ve signed an extension, or to turn over half your money,’ to Arum, ‘but you didn’t sign a contract.'
“I told him I just want the fight … that if it’s on an even playing field (with Olympic-style drug testing) we can make the fight happen.”
Mayweather proceeded in his Tuesday interview to criticize Koncz’s intentions for being close to Pacquiao – “I know what goes on behind the scenes in the sport of boxing,” he said – and took a shot at his former promoter Arum’s company Top Rank Inc. for depriving Pacquiao of a greater payday Saturday.
“You’ll see the difference in the details,” Mayweather said. “He should’ve worked with [Mayweather’s powerful manager] Al Haymon, he might’ve earned $100 million.”
Mayweather and Pacquiao agreed to meet after the game, and they ultimately united at Pacquiao’s hotel room.
There, Pacquiao expressed how serious he was to strike a deal, and Mayweather showed his sincerity by placing an after-midnight phone call to Haymon in front of Pacquiao, telling the manager he wanted the deal, according to fight officials.
Mayweather said after beating Marcos Maidana for a second time in September he began leaning toward a Pacquiao fight.
“I thought about my investments, I said I can make this in two fights, or make [all] this for a fight right here,” Mayweather said, prompting another call to Haymon, in which he said, “Al, make the fight happen.”
Of course, “Money” Mayweather, who said he’ll earn “upwards of $200 million” for Saturday night’s work, couldn’t resist another dig at Pacquiao’s financial arrangement with Arum, criticizing the quality of the hotel room they met in.
“I don’t know why they had him staying at that type of hotel … I’m not here to put the hotel on blast, but it just wasn’t right,” Mayweather said. “Financially, I don’t think Top Rank treated him right for this fight.”
Read the Los Angeles Times’ special edition Flipboard digital magazine Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.