No deal for Pacquiao-Mayweather bout
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum's deadline of 3 a.m. ET came and went Saturday morning with no response from Floyd Mayweather Jr. or his representatives about whether he would accept the terms of a deal for a Nov. 13 fight with Manny Pacquiao.
So there is no deal, Arum said, and he will begin negotiating another fight for the pound-for-pound king.
The two candidates are other fighters Arum promotes, disgraced former welterweight titlist Antonio Margarito, who remains unlicensed in the United States because of the scandal over his hand wraps before his knockout loss to Shane Mosley last year, or a rematch with Miguel Cotto, whom Pacquiao knocked out to win a welterweight title in November 2009.
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However high someone else's opinion of Floyd Mayweather Jr. might be, it is unlikely to be quite as high as his own. He is, most assuredly, his own man, ESPN.com contributor Kieran Mulvaney writes. Blog
Those fights would take place at junior middleweight and give Pacquiao a chance to win a title in a record-extending eighth weight class.
He would either fight Cotto for the 154-pound belt he won from Yuri Foreman on June 5 or face Margarito for the belt vacated by Sergio Martinez after he moved up and won the middleweight championship in April.
But Arum did give Mayweather some wiggle room to still accept the deal. He said the deadline he imposed was only as it related to negotiating exclusively with the Mayweather camp.
"People have asked me does [the deadline] mean the Mayweather fight is dead," Arum said on a media conference call that began moments after the countdown clock on Top Rank's website struck zero. "Even though Mayweather hasn't responded by the deadline my answer is a simple one -- it's dead when we conclude a deal with an opponent for Manny to fight. ... And then we would look to do a fight with Floyd next year. In the interim, while this is going on, if Floyd suddenly emerged we would not be opposed to doing the fight. While these negotiations are going on [with Cotto and Margarito], if Floyd came to the table, that's the fight we want more than all others."
Not only did Arum leave the door open to Mayweather to still accept the fight in the next 10 days or so -- the length of time Arum figured it would take him to make a deal with Cotto or Margarito -- but he was also conciliatory toward a fighter he has had raging public feuds with since their promotional agreement ended on a sour note several years ago.
Rather than bash Mayweather for his silence and lack of response to the deadline and for not accepting the fight, Arum was soothing toward his nemesis.
"I am sure that there is a very, very good reason that Floyd Mayweather has for not committing to a fight at this time," Arum said. "I really, truly believe that. Now I am speculating, but one of the reasons could be the uncertainly regarding [uncle and trainer] Roger Mayweather. Roger Mayweather is scheduled before a court in Nevada regarding criminal charges. I know how Manny would feel if he had to go into a fight like this without the services of Freddie Roach."
Roger Mayweather is scheduled to go on trial early next month on a year-old battery charge that alleges he beat a female boxer he once trained. Mayweather has already served time for a previous assault charge -- during which time he missed one of his nephew's fights -- and faces a maximum 10-year sentence.
People should be understanding. Floyd Mayweather is not saying he will never fight Manny Pacquiao and Manny Pacquiao is not saying he's not going to fight. There's always next year.” -- Top Rank's Bob Arum,
who promotes Manny Pacquiao
Arum said for weeks before the deadline that Mayweather's camp had a contract for the fight and that Pacquiao has accepted the terms, including provisions for drug testing (blood and urine) leading to the bout. An inability to come to terms on the drug-testing issue caused the fight to fall apart in early January and sent both fighters into other bouts.
Pacquiao easily outpointed Joshua Clottey at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on March 13 and Mayweather dominated Shane Mosley in a May 1 fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"I think that issue [drug testing] was resolved," Arum said. "I believe it was resolved and I don't want to go into the details."
Another factor that Arum didn't address was the status of the defamation suit Pacquiao filed against Mayweather, members of his team and Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya, over comments that linked Pacquiao to performance-enhancing drugs, which he denies ever using.
Arum said he never spoke directly to the Mayweather camp during negotiations, but said he believed he and Mayweather adviser Al Haymon settled on an agreement during the talks that went entirely through Ross Greenburg, the president of HBO Sports, which would have produced and distributed the fight on pay-per-view.
Arum took the deal to Pacquiao and got his OK. Haymon, he said, was supposed to take the deal to Mayweather for his OK. On June 30, Arum said he believed there were no remaining issues.
"That's based on my conversations with Ross Greenburg," Arum said. "I have never talked to anybody on the Mayweather side. Ross represented to me certain things that he had discussed with Al Haymon on behalf of Floyd Mayweather."
Haymon does not speak to the media and Leonard Ellerbe, another Mayweather adviser, has not returned messages and e-mails from ESPN.com.
Although Arum wouldn't go into the details in the proposed deal, he did talk about the way the secretive talks unfolded.
"About two months ago, a few days after the Mayweather-Mosley fight, I got a call from Ross Greenburg, who asked me frankly whether myself and Manny Pacquiao wanted to do the fight against Floyd Mayweather," Arum said. "I assured him that, yes, I had talked to Manny and that was the case, and from there I had a couple of conversations with Ross and I laid out all the terms that would be acceptable to our side.
"And I also informed him about the concessions that Manny had made regarding drug testing. He got back to me in a couple of weeks and told me he had discussed it with Al Haymon, and everything looked good and we were nearing a resolution.
"They kept assuring Greenburg, at least based on what Greenburg told me, that Haymon told him he was working on it [and] expecting [a commitment from Mayweather] shortly and it never materialized. I don't blame Haymon. I think Haymon really tried, at least based on what I hear from Greenburg."
Arum said that Schaefer, the Golden Boy CEO who has promoted Mayweather's last several fights and was heavily involved in the first negotiations for the Pacquiao fight, wasn't directly involved this time.
"Nowhere was the name Richard Schaefer or Golden Boy mentioned, although I read, as you all did, De La Hoya's statement [to a Spanish-language network] that a deal was close. So I assumed from that that Haymon was keeping Schaefer and Golden Boy abreast of the situation.
"Ross has for the last month been telling me Haymon was working very, very hard to get the agreement done with Floyd. A couple of weeks ago I told [Greenburg] I wanted to do this fight very badly and so did Manny, but that at a particular point in time we'd have to move on."
Asked why he only negotiated the bout with Greenburg acting as a go-between rather than directly with Haymon, with whom he has had a rancorous relationship in recent years, Arum said: "Ross was committed to make the fight happen and as the head of HBO Sports I felt the best chance to make the fight happen was to do everything through Ross, almost like he was the mediator. And I still believe it was the right way to go. It obviously didn't work out [but] not because Ross didn't do a good job. But obviously Floyd, for whatever reason, and I'm sure he had some valid reason, didn't want to commit."
So now it's on to talking with the representatives for Margarito and Cotto, which Arum said needs to be done quickly so Pacquiao, a recently elected congressman in the Philippines, can work out his tricky schedule.
"First I have to get Manny's views," Arum said. "I have to discuss with Manny who he prefers [Cotto or Margarito] and then get everything put together. Whoever he selects is who we will go after."
Arum said if Pacquiao fights Cotto it would take place either at the MGM Grand or Cowboys Stadium. If it's Margarito, he said the fight would take place at a new arena in Monterrey, Mexico, or at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, if Margarito can secure a provisional license in Nevada. The Nevada State Athletic Commission tabled his application earlier this month, but it is still possible he could secure a license for the fight.
Neither of those fights is nearly as big as a bout with Mayweather, which many believe would break all revenue records in boxing history.
"It would be a shame if it didn't happen," Arum said. "I don't think any of you [media] guys should be too harsh on Floyd. I would have liked for him to communicate but I really believe this issue with his uncle has an effect.
"Right now, I understand Floyd's position regarding Roger. We know the seriousness regarding Roger and I can understand him delaying plans for a future fight until there's a resolution. Boxing fans are going to be disappointed but they have to realize and cut Floyd Mayweather some slack. People should be understanding. Floyd Mayweather is not saying he will never fight Manny Pacquiao and Manny Pacquiao is not saying he's not going to fight.
"There's always next year."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.
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