A deal apparently is in the eyes of the beholder.
“We’re all done,” Arum told Fight Hub TV and others while in Colorado this week. “We’ve signed everything, agreed on all the terms. As far as we know, we’ve been told by the highest authority that Mayweather’s people have agreed, that the networks have agreed.
“But like they say, you can’t do a play about Hamlet without Hamlet, and Hamlet -- meaning Mayweather -- has not signed on.”
Not so fast, and not at all accurate, counters Showtime Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza, who is negotiating alongside his superiors and HBO executives to craft a joint-broadcasting deal for what’s expected to be the most lucrative pay-per-view bout in history.
Showtime has two fights remaining in its agreement with Mayweather. Pacquiao fights for HBO.
“Arum has been saying a lot of inaccuracies,” Espinzoa told the Los Angeles Times in a telephone interview Saturday.
“Here’s where we are: There is no contract awaiting Floyd’s signature, and Bob Arum knows that. Floyd has represented to [CBS/Showtime Chairman] Leslie Moonves, to [his manager] Al Haymon and to me personally that he wants to make the fight, and we are making very good progress. But there are no contracts. There are open issues between Showtime and HBO that are being resolved.
“No one is waiting on Floyd, and for Bob Arum to say otherwise is a misrepresentation of the facts.
“Discussions are ongoing. We’ve made significant progress. And Floyd has given us clear directions to make the fight.”
In a conversation with The Times earlier this week, Arum said that while attorneys are ready to draft contracts, it would likely take into this coming week before anything can be presented to the fighters to sign.
With issues like splitting profits, the fight replay, handling on-air talent and other details as part of the challenge of handling a joint broadcast arrangement between rival premium networks that hasn’t been done since 2002 (Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson), Espinoza declined to reveal what deal points remain unfinished.
Pacquiao told The Times earlier this week that he wants an agreement struck by the end of January. On Friday, he visited in London with England’s Amir Khan to discuss what is clearly a backup option.
If the deal is close by Jan. 31, it’s believed Pacquiao will wait.
The fighters have already agreed on the purse split, a drug-testing plan, a May 2 date and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as the venue.
“We’re about halfway there,” Espinoza said of the television prong. “How long it takes to get to the finish line is anyone’s guess and I wouldn’t want to speculate.
“But we are making progress. We’re confident it’s going in the right direction.”