The much-anticipated bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao is all but set for March 13, a source told Yahoo! Sports.
Mayweather has agreed to terms and promoter Bob Arum is making a trip to Manila, Philippines, to finalize a deal with Pacquiao, the source said.
Las Vegas, Dallas and New Orleans are the front-runners to host the bout, which is expected to become the highest-grossing boxing match in the sport's history.
Pacquiao is the top pound-for-pound fighter in nearly every major ranking, including Yahoo! Sports. Mayweather is No. 2 in most rankings and was No. 1 in nearly all of the polls before he briefly retired in June 2008.
Pacquiao is coming off a 12th-round stoppage of Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, a bout in which he won the World Boxing Organization welterweight championship and erased fears that he is not a legitimate welterweight.
Cotto was a legitimate welterweight in his prime and Pacquiao dominated, knocking him down twice and cruising to the one-sided victory.
Mayweather routed Juan Manuel Marquez, who had previously been ranked No. 2 in the Yahoo! Sports poll, in a Sept. 19 fight at the MGM Grand.
The public demand for the fight has been enormous, putting pressure on Arum and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who represents Mayweather, to get a deal done.
Promoters had targeted May 1 for the fight almost from the moment that Pacquiao stopped Cotto. But Pacquiao filed Tuesday to run for Congress in the Philippines and the election will be held on May 10.
Given that, the bout with Mayweather had to be moved up to March 13 or pushed back until September.
Though there were reports that Arum was considering matching Pacquiao with new WBO super welterweight champion Yuri Foreman on March 13 in Dallas, that was a diversionary move and was never serious, the source said.
A survey team from Top Rank will inspect Dallas Cowboys Stadium as a possible venue. The MGM Grand Garden Arena and the New Orleans Superdome are also in the running to host the mega-fight, the source said.
- Manny Pacquiao
- Miguel Cotto