The moment Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, denied that any negotiations had taken place between his camp and the Manny Pacquiao camp headed by promoter Bob Arum, it put HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg in an untenable position. Essentially, Ellerbe was accusing Greenburg of lying.
It took a few days, but Greenburg finally issued a statement confirming that he served as the man in the middle of negotiations between representatives of both camps. Greenburg's statement contained no names, but Arum said he was one participant and it was his understanding that the other was attorney Al Haymon from the Mayweather camp.
Here's Greenburg's statement: "Fights like Mayweather vs. Pacquiao are significant because of these fighters' ability to connect with sports fans around the world. It's unfortunate that it won't happen in 2010.
"I had been negotiating with a representative from each side since May 2nd, carefully trying to put the fight together. Hopefully, someday this fight will happen. Sports fans deserve it."
In other words, Greenburg began working on trying to put together Pacquiao-Mayweather the day after Mayweather scored a lopsided decision over Shane Mosley. Since Greenburg issued his statement, more denials have come out of the Mayweather camp from both Ellerbe and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer.
Again, they essentially called Greenburg a liar. Talk about biting the hand that feeds, this is a remarkable example of that.
"I don't know where that statement from Ross is coming from," Schaefer said in his statement. "He didn't negotiate with me, and I have a very close relationship with Leonard Ellerbe and with Al Haymon, and I'm not aware that either one of them had held negotiations with Ross Greenburg…I would be anxious to know who Ross was negotiating those terms with and who gave Ross the indication that any potential terms on the table were acceptable to Mayweather, because I'm sure that Bob wouldn't say those things unless he was told them by Ross."
Ellerbe previously said, "Either Ross Greenburg or Bob Arum is lying." Backing up those words, Ellerbe had this to say after Greenburg issued his statement: "I stand behind the statement that I gave last week 100 percent."
The argument Schaefer and Ellerbe appear to be making is that negotiations couldn't have taken place without the active participation of Mayweather. They're arguing the definition of "negotiations" in this case.
Greenburg asked all the participants not to talk in an effort to keep both sides calm, but after Ellerbe called his credibility into question Greenburg was forced to issue his statement saying negotiations had taken place. For Greenburg to do that, you can take it to the bank.
When Golden Boy-backed Amir Khan fought at Madison Square Garden in May, Schaefer said he couldn't talk about Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations because he had been asked not to by Greenburg. That alone is a clear admission negotiations were taking place in some form.
Mayweather simply could have said he doesn't want to fight again this year. Instead, he chose to have Schaefer and Ellerbe deny that any negotiations took place. That's not only an insult to the intelligence of boxing fans; it's an insult to Greenburg, who has an obvious interest in making the richest fight in history worth somewhere between $80 million and $100 million.
Greenburg isn't lying, and neither, surprisingly enough, is Arum. As for Schaefer and Ellerbe, it's at least fair to call them disingenuous for the game of semantics they are playing on behalf of Mayweather.