By Dan Gibbons | May 29, 2009

The battle between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao has already begun. The two are going toe-to-toe to determine the only title that matters in the business of boxing. Forget P4P, it's all about $4$! Who will be crowned the best dollar-for-dollar fighter in the sport? Who will inherit all that HBO money that was once reserved for the Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya prior to his retirement in April. Thus far, HBO appears to be leaning slightly towards Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach, Bob Arum and 100 million Filipinos are not going to be happy about it.

Don't believe me? Well ask yourself thisÂ…if Mayweather didn't have the edge, why would HBO bother to pay him $15 million to face Marquez, who already LOST to reigning pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao a year ago as a lightweight? Despite the fact that Pacquioa's last four fights, which all took place during Mayweather's brief retirement, were all exciting, thrilling and downright scintillating, Mayweather was still able to come back and command $3 million more than Pacquiao's biggest purse. Truth be told, since he burst onto the scene, pretty much all of Pacquiao's fights have been far more entertaining than Mayweather's bouts, and yet, it's Mayweather that HBO appears to favor. I hardly sounds fair.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the business of boxing, HBO doesn't reward fighters simply based on their performances. When it comes to getting paid, the old adage in boxing that says "your only as good as your last fight" is meaningless. Obviously, having a large fanbase and being a draw is far more important to HBO than a fighter's performance inside the ring. That being said, when it comes to Mayweather and Pacquiao, two fighters who have both proven to be pay-per-view draws so long as they have a decent dance partner, why exactly would they show more favoritism towards Mayweather?

Perhaps it's Mayweather's undefeated record that fancies the eye of the HBO executives. After all, in boxing, a blemish on a record implies flaws; two blemishes and fans are calling for a fighters retirement (just ask Ricky Hatton). A perfect record, however, is...well...perfection and perfection is a strong selling point in any promotion. Still, it's hard to imagine that Floyd's undefeated record is the only reason why HBO would be willing to ensure that he's still the highest paid athlete in the sport.

One could point to the actual pay-per-view numbers that both fighters have achieved in their last couple of bouts. Given these tough economic times, Pacquiao did extremely well in his fights with Hatton (~850 thousand buys) and De La Hoya ( ~1.25 million buys), however, as Mayweather is quick to point out, he still did better (~915 thousand buys against Hatton and ~2.5 million buys against De La Hoya). As Floyd would say, the numbers don't lie, but again, both fighters were facing two top draws in their own right, so although the numbers don't lie, it's also difficult to draw any conclusions on drawing power since it's obvious that they both need another top draw to produce such lofty numbers.

So the question remains...why exactly has HBO gone out of their way to ensure that Mayweather is the current dollar-for-dollar champion despite a lengthy retirement and Pacquiao's own rise as the reigning pound-for-pound champion? The answer is simple...Mayweather has that "it" factor.

Manny Pacquiao is humble and polite, two traits that are extremely admirable in this brutal sport. He doesn't talk trash about his opponents, opting to let his fists and his actions speak louder than his words. While his performances have rightfully earned him top dollar, propelling him to become the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, he lacks that "it" factor that a network like HBO looks to capitalize on for ratings. Mayweather, on the other hand, is cocky, loud-mouthed and arrogant. Obnoxious as he may seem, it's that kind of attitude that HBO has chosen to put their money behind. Love it or hate it, it draws people in and gives them something more to talk about before and after the fight has taken place. A Brian Kenny interview with Manny Pacquiao will never be as controversial and yet entertaining as one with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Whether that's good or bad, HBO is fully aware that Mayweather brings something extra to the table. They simply like his brash, flamboyant style and the circus that comes with the whole Mayweather family. Why else would HBO take the time to edit in clips of Roger Mayweather, as well as Floyd Mayweather Sr. talking about his relationship with his son, during a Pacquiao-Hatton 24/7? Although Pacquiao's performances inside the ring may be more dazzling, Floyd "Money" Mayweather simply brings a network like HBO the type of ratings they're looking for.

So come July 18, assuming Mayweather wins, don't expect anything to change even if he looks a little rusty or the pay-per-view numbers are less than expected. More than likely, HBO won't be in a rush to make a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao clash. They now have two who can give them drama in the ring and another who can give them drama outside of it. The question is which type of drama does HBO value more? So far, it looks like it's the drama outside of the ring that they're favoring.

"Floyd Mayweather, the mouth that roared, is back and he is going into the lions den...Move over Paris Hilton and the Kardishians; Donald Trump, empty out the boardroom and survivors, get off the island because Money Mayweather is back on 24/7 and the first episode premiers June 27th...We will load you up again with 24/7's all access.  We are always excited when Floyd Mayweather is part of the series." - Ross Greenburg, President of HBO Sports

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