The Neutral Corner

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So who (Floyd, Manny) is in the driver's seat now?

Floyd Mayweather stretches during a press conference with

Floyd Mayweather stretches during a press conference with Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (May 2, 2012) (Credit: Getty)

So who’s in the driver’s seat now? Will it be Floyd Mayweather Jr., who scored an impressive unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto on Saturday or perhaps Manny Pacquiao, who drew 1.4 million pay-per-view buys for his fight against Juan Manuel Marquez.

The naysayers will tell you that Floyd Mayweather Jr. shouldn’t get the lion’s share of a 60-40 split of a potential purse to fight Manny Pacquiao. The naysayers will tell you that Pacquiao knocked out Miguel Cotto, while Mayweather “only” outpointed him.

The thing about boxing is money (no pun intended) talks. Mayweather and Pacquiao are the biggest draws in the sport and have been for the last half decade. Mayweather still has the record for the biggest PPV fight in history when he and Oscar de la Hoya drew 2.4 million for their bout in 2007.

Top Rank boss Bob Arum said at the first Pacquiao-Tim Bradley press conference a couple of months ago that there are usually tickets available on the day of Mayweather fights. Whether or not that statement is true is irrelevant at this point. When you get to the level of boxing that Mayweather and Pacquiao are at, it’s all about the PPV. That’s how promoters make their money. That’s how the networks (HBO, SHOWTIME) make their money.

The naysayers will also say Pacquiao has a bigger international following than Mayweather. That is probably true, too. But it is irrelevant if it doesn’t translate into bigger PPV numbers.

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said he expected the bout with Cotto last Saturday to draw close to two million. It could be wishful thinking because Schaefer was saying the same thing about the Mayweather-Mosley bout. That fight drew a very respectable 1.4 million.

Then again, we are talking about Mayweather vs. Cotto. Cotto has a huge following and usually sells out any arena he fights in. He has routinely drawn big numbers at Madison Square Garden. Not too mention Cotto is probably the best opponent Mayweather has faced since his two-fight saga with Jose Luis Castillo 10 years ago.

Cotto’s popularity within the Puerto Rican community could be the difference between a typical 1.2 to 1.3-million PPV buy for a Mayweather fight to 1.8 to 2-million purchase rate.

Cotto-Antonio Margarito reportedly drew about 600,000 PPV buys for their bout last December. That’s not bad for two non-English speaking fighters who were born outside of the United States.

Pacquiao drawing 1.45 million buys for his bout with Juan Manuel Marquez put him in the driver’s seat temporarily. If Mayweather goes above and beyond that, he will have the leverage.

Of course that leverage could shift into Pacquiao’s favor if his fight with Tim Bradley on June 9 surpasses what Mayweather and Cotto does.

Get ready for a long and bumpy ride.

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