Arum eyes Pacquiao-Mayweather fight
Newly elected Filipino congressman Manny Pacquiao, who will be sworn in on June 30 after his resounding victory this week, will fight Nov. 13, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said on Wednesday. And if Arum and Pacquiao have their way, the fight will be against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"Manny is definitely going to fight in November," Arum said during a teleconference in which he addressed a handful of media members upon his return from the Philippines, where he had spent the past week supporting Pacquiao in the final days on the campaign trail and also talking a little business.
"The fight we want to do is the Mayweather fight," Arum said. "There is no question that is the fight the public wants. I'm very optimistic once we start we will conclude this time [but] you never know."
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Arum also said Pacquiao's next fight, whomever it is against, would not be his last one, as some have speculated.
"My belief, based on my conversations with him, is that he will engage in probably three more fights," said Arum, noting that if the Mayweather fight can't be made Plan B is to match Pacquiao with former welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito.
He said his trip to the Philippines made him realize just how much people want to see Pacquiao and Mayweather -- the top two fighters in the world pound-for-pound in whichever order you choose -- fight.
"It's amazing how many people came up to me as I was leaving the Philippines and asked me when is the Mayweather fight going to happen," Arum said. "That's the fight people want to see. That's the fight and I will do my darnedest to make it happen."
"The people are requesting that I fight Mayweather before I retire," Pacquiao told The Associated Press. "If I ever fight again, I think I will give in to the request of the people."
Pacquiao defeated businessman Roy Chiongbian, who comes from the dominant political family of the Sarangani region.
"People don't realize that this victory over the candidate that he beat was a tremendous upset that nobody expected him to pull off," Arum said. "The Chiongbian family holds all of the major businesses in his province. Every major elected official in the province, congressman, mayor, are related to the family or are associates of the family. Manny was running against the elder son in the family and they hadn't been defeated. Manny Pacquiao is a fighter and with his grit and determination was not only able to win, but win by a landslide. ... To me it is incredible."
With the election behind them, Arum vowed not to get caught up in negotiating the Mayweather bout through the media, which is exactly what happened in December and January.
Eventually, the sides had come to terms on all points except one, which caused the fight to implode. They could not reach an accord on the way the drug testing for the bout would be handled.
Pacquiao went on to defeat Joshua Clottey in a resounding decision on March 13 at Jerry Jones' lavish 100,000-plus seat Cowboys Stadium outside of Dallas. Mayweather won a similarly dominating decision against Shane Mosley on May 1 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the biggest fight of the year -- so far.
Now the sides find themselves back in the same position as before -- with the era's biggest fight on the table and looking for a way to get it done.
"I don't want to discuss the issues involved in making the fight because we will be involved in negotiations. Our goal is to make that fight happen," said Arum, who would not discuss Pacquiao's stance on the drug testing. "We're not going to negotiate in the press. If we do, given the egos of both camps, it will never happen."
Another aspect of the talks will be how to handle the defamation suit Pacquiao filed against Mayweather and others involved in the talks. Pacquiao said they had wrongly accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs.
"Right now the lawsuit is still in play. The lawsuit is still being actively pursued," Arum said. "All these issues are on the table and they'll be negotiated. I assume in the negotiation the issue of the pending lawsuit will be discussed.
"Once you start negotiating through the media it becomes an ego contest. Then each side can't wait to give its statement to the press and the flames just shoot up and there is no real opportunity for rational behavior to take over. Everybody is so interested in setting forth his position to the media that that becomes the contest, and that involved me as well as everybody else [last time]."
Arum's poor relationships with Mayweather, whom he used to promote, and Al Haymon, Mayweather's adviser, are well documented. His relationship with Golden Boy Promotions' Richard Schaefer, who has promoted Mayweather's last few fights, has also had numerous ups and downs.
But Arum repeated several times that he would not get caught up in the daily media updates like he did last time. He said he thought the sides would be able to come to terms.
"Negotiations are negotiations and a lot of nice things happen if people negotiate in good faith and people want something to happen and negotiate without going through the media," he said. "Let's see what happens."
Schaefer also refuses to predict success after the camps' first negotiations fell apart over drug-testing disagreements. Schaefer said no formal talks are scheduled, and Mayweather is busy spending time with his family and watching the NBA playoffs.
Schaefer, in New York promoting Amir Khan's bout with Paulie Malignaggi this weekend, echoed Arum's desire for a calm, private negotiation out of the media spotlight.
"Is it the fight everyone would like to see? Yeah, it is," Schaefer said. "But everyone would like to see as well LeBron James against Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals, or [Roger] Federer against [Rafael] Nadal in the Wimbledon final, or now that World Cup soccer is coming up, the Brazilians against the Italians in the World Cup soccer final.
"Does it always happen? No, it doesn't. But I don't think the success of one event is really the beginning or the end of a sport."
Arum said the two sites that will be in the picture again are the same two it came down to last time: Cowboys Stadium and the MGM Grand, home to most of boxing's biggest fights in recent years.
"Jerry [Jones] is certainly interested and so is the MGM," Arum said. "It will be, if the fight happens, and I hope it will, in mid-November. It would be in one of those two places."
Arum lobbied for the fight to be in Dallas when the sides were negotiating at the end of last year, but the Mayweather camp won out and the fight was slated for the MGM Grand. Arum said he is open-minded about either site.
"I'm not married to Dallas," he said. "I love Jerry Jones. He's a terrific guy but I am going to advocate putting any fight of Manny's where it will do the best and make the most sense and that is not necessarily Dallas."
Arum said the sides have not begun formal talks but said he believed they would begin soon.
"Obviously, there is a plan and we haven't started negotiations yet," Arum said. "There is a plan. I don't want to go into what's happening but there are things happening on the ground."
So when will the negotiations with the Mayweather camp begin?
"I have my marching orders and it will be sooner rather than later," Arum said.
Although Pacquiao's new position as congressman serving his home province will be time-consuming, especially because he will be responsible for overseeing the allocation of money the region receives from the Filipino federal government, Arum said it would not interfere with Pacquiao's ability to train for a fight.
"There will be a [congressional] session during the month of July and then they are off for a few months," Arum said. "When he is training he runs in the morning, then sleeps, then trains in the gym and then eats dinner and then he has all his free time. He sings, he's around with his people. A lot of that free time will be devoted to his political responsibilities. He'll have plenty of time to do his politics while he is in training and out of training."
There is one area where Arum said he thought Pacquiao would have to cut back.
"The one activity I know it will affect is his time playing billiards," Arum said jokingly. "He will have to slow down on that."
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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