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Friday, November 13, 2009

POUND-FOR-POUND SHOWDOWN: Megafight on deck?

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It's the fight virtually all boxing fans want to see, a fight the sport desperately needs to help re-ignite its mainstream appeal.

But will Floyd Mayweather Jr. ever get into the ring against Manny Pacquiao?

Pacquiao is convinced it will never come to pass. His promoter, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, isn't so sure.

"I don't think it's going to happen," said Pacquiao, the sport's current pound-for-pound king, who faces welterweight champion Miguel Cotto on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden. "I'm sure (Mayweather) doesn't want to fight.

"Boxing for him is like a business. He doesn't care about the people around him watching. He doesn't care if the fight is boring, as long as the fight is finished and he gets his money.

"I want people to be happy when I fight. You have a big responsibility as a boxer."

Arum doesn't view Mayweather-Pacquiao as an impossibility.

"I don't know," he said. "Nobody is going to sit around and wait for Mayweather and take his abuse. If Mayweather wants to fight Pacquiao if Manny wins and (Mayweather) is sensible about it, why not?"

Mayweather hasn't sounded off on the issue since he beat Juan Manuel Marquez in his comeback Sept. 19. Prior to his return from a 21-month ring absence, Mayweather was complimentary of Pacquiao's skills but still considered himself boxing's pound-for-pound champ.

Many variables would have to be addressed for the megafight to happen, starting with Pacquiao beating Cotto, the WBO champ. Should Pacquiao lose, all bets are probably off for a 2010 fight against Mayweather.

But if Pacquiao wins, the stage would be set for negotiations with Mayweather that have the potential to become prickly and drawn out.

Arum doesn't hide his disdain for Mayweather's co-managers, Al Haymon and Leonard Ellerbe. On the surface, having to go face to face with Team Mayweather would be an automatic deal-breaker for Arum.

Ellerbe could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The potential wild card to making a deal is Richard Schaefer, chief executive officer of Golden Boy Promotions. Golden Boy worked with Mayweather in his comeback fight against Marquez that generated more than 1 million pay-per-view buys.

Arum said he would have no problems working with Schaefer as a third party in putting together Mayweather-Pacquiao.

"I have tremendous respect for Richard," Arum said. "We give each other our word, and we can make a deal or we could not make a deal in two hours."

Schaefer said he has not talked to Haymon or Ellerbe about being involved in any potential negotiations with Pacquiao.

"First of all, let's see who wins Saturday," Schaefer said Thursday. "It's not a given that (Pacquiao) will beat Cotto. But assuming Pacquiao wins, I'll talk to Al and Leonard on Monday and see if they're interested and how they want to proceed. I can't see why they wouldn't want to have me involved.

"Bob and I have worked well together in the past, and we know how to get the big fights done. This is certainly in that category. There's a lot of demand from the public for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao."

Schaefer said all the normal issues -- purse, weight limit, date and venue -- would have to be negotiated.

"Obviously, the purse is the big thing -- how do you divvy up the money?" he explained. "But if you look at the track record we have in working with Bob over the years, we've always been able to reach a fair deal for both fighters.

"Let me put it this way: There's going to be plenty (of money) out there for everyone involved to do very well."

Even if Arum and Schaefer were to cut a deal, Pacquiao's Filipino interests will want to weigh in. They nearly sabotaged his May 2 fight against Ricky Hatton, and it took some last-minute negotiating to keep that deal from falling through.

But Arum said he can handle that side of it by dealing directly with Pacquiao.

But the question remains: Will Mayweather ultimately be willing to get in the ring with Pacquiao and decide who is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?

During the run-up to his fight against Marquez, Mayweather praised Pacquiao, saying he was a good fighter. But Mayweather was also quick to insist he is the better fighter.

Arum said nobody has seen or heard from Mayweather since his win over Marquez in September.

"It's like he has disappeared," Arum said.

• NOTES -- Today's 3 p.m. weigh-in at the MGM Grand Garden is open to the public, and admission is free. ... The nonpay-per-view portion of Saturday's card will be televised free on On Demand (Cable 1) beginning at 4 p.m. ... Top Rank will promote a card starting at 6 p.m. today at the House of Blues, featuring Alberto Rosas (30-5, 25 knockouts) vs. Federico Catubay (25-15-3, 14 KOs) in a 12-round IBF super flyweight elimination bout. The card also will have Filipino welterweight Mark Melligen (16-1, 12 KOs) facing Michel Rosales (24-3, 21 KOs) in a 10-round co-feature. The televised portion of the card on TV Azteca America (Cable 63) begins at 7 p.m.

Source: http://www.lvrj.com/sports/megafight-on-deck-69950112.html

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