By Greg Beacham
The Associated Press
Manny Pacquiao reluctantly will look for another opponent for his next bout after promoter Bob Arum’s deadline for a deal with Floyd Mayweather Jr. passed Saturday without a word from Mayweather.
In the latest improbable twist in the torturous negotiations for the most tantalizing prospective fight in boxing, Arum said Mayweather’s camp simply hasn’t responded to a contract proposal with no obvious points of contention.
Pacquiao already has agreed to extensive drug testing and an equitable split of the earnings from what’s likely to be the richest fight in boxing history.
“Floyd, for whatever reason — and I’m sure he has some valid reason — didn’t want to commit,” Arum said.
Although Arum was careful not to criticize Mayweather, saying the fighter who calls himself Money could take the incredibly lucrative offer at any point in the next week or so, Arum plans to open discussions with Antonio Margarito and Miguel Cotto for a fight with Pacquiao in November.
“(Pacquiao-Mayweather) is dead when we conclude a deal for Manny’s fight in November,” Arum said. “Then we’re contractually bound to that fight, and we would look to do a deal with Floyd for next year. If Floyd emerged and said he wanted to do the fight (in November), then there would be nothing opposed to doing the fight.”
Arum claims he couldn’t wait any longer to start the time-consuming process of putting together a fight for Pacquiao, whose personal schedule has tightened up with his election to congress in his native Philippines this year. Arum said Top Rank needs several months to put together television deals and publicity tours for the bout.
Pacquiao and Mayweather are their sport’s top two stars, and a meeting likely would be worth more than $40 million to each fighter. They’ve discussed a bout for several months since Mayweather’s return from a brief retirement, but haven’t made a deal.
Although he hasn’t spoken directly to Mayweather, Arum believes the former pound-for-pound champion might be reluctant because of the legal woes of Roger Mayweather, his uncle and longtime trainer. Roger Mayweather will go on trial in Las Vegas next month on assault charges stemming from an altercation with a female boxer last year.
“It would be a shame if it didn’t happen, but I don’t think (anybody) should be too harsh on Floyd in this situation,” Arum said. “I would have liked him to communicate, but I really believe that this issue with the uncle has an effect. Putting myself in their shoes, I would feel a lot of reluctance going into this big fight without my trainer, and we’re not going to know what the outcome of this criminal situation is for quite some time.”
Arum also gave a little insight into the murky negotiations, which were conducted with much less public grandstanding than in the rancorous talks during the 2009 holidays, which ended with no deal — and with Pacquiao suing members of the Mayweather camp for insinuating he uses performance-enhancing drugs.
Arum said he never spoke directly to Mayweather, his representatives at Golden Boy Promotions or even Al Haymon, Mayweather’s chief adviser. Instead, Arum spoke solely to HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, who served as a mediator between Top Rank and Mayweather’s camp.
Mayweather’s camp has been silent throughout the negotiations, with Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer even refusing to acknowledge talks were occurring. Haymon never grants interviews or makes public statements about his varied boxing interests.
Mayweather’s official Twitter feed, which usually is overflowing with plugs for his iPhone application, music ventures and charity endeavors, hasn’t been updated since Thursday afternoon.
Although Top Rank informed Greenburg of its deadline — and even tweaked Mayweather by putting a countdown clock on its website — Greenburg and Haymon hadn’t responded by Friday night.
“The fight that we want to do is Mayweather,” Arum said. “We haven’t said anything different, we haven’t acted differently, but Manny has to fight in November. We’re going to proceed with all deliberate speed, but if in the interim Floyd decides that, despite the Roger situation, that he wants to fight Manny, absolutely, that’s the fight we want.”
Pacquiao is unlikely to have much trouble reaching a deal with either of the replacement opponents identified by Arum. since Cotto and Margarito both are fellow Top Rank fighters.
Pacquiao stopped Cotto last November to win the WBO welterweight title in a fairly one-sided fight, but Arum said the rematch would be at super welterweight, where Cotto rejuvenated his career by claiming the WBA title at Yankee Stadium last month. The match also is enticing because Pacquiao could go after a title in his eighth weight class.
While Pacquiao and Cotto would meet either at Cowboys Stadium or in Las Vegas, Arum said Pacquiao might have to fight Margarito in Monterrey, Mexico — which could be a financial boon to both fighters, given Mexico’s lower withholding taxes. Margarito’s suspension in California still hasn’t been lifted after he was caught using illegal hand wraps in a January 2009 bout, essentially making him unable to fight anywhere stateside without an exemption.
Arum scoffed at the notion of matching Pacquiao against Paul Williams, Timothy Bradley or other lesser-known fighters who might be even more deserving of a shot at the world’s best boxers, calling them “free riders” on Pacquiao’s financial muscle.
“Paul Williams is a tremendous fighter, really a great fighter, but he’s never been promoted correctly,” Arum said. “He doesn’t have any following. He can’t sell a ticket. … I’m not going to let anybody have a free ride.”