Arum claims progress on megafight negotiations

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LAS VEGAS – The highly anticipated proposed bout between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, which would match boxing's two best fighters and its two biggest stars, is inching toward reality.

Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank said Wednesday that issues have been resolved and the only thing standing between the fight being made is a decision by Mayweather as to whether he wants to fight again in 2010.

Arum has said for months that Pacquiao will fight on Nov. 13, whether it is against Mayweather or another opponent.

"I think the only question is whether Mayweather is prepared to fight now," Arum said. "He may say he's had his fight for the year and that's it and that we'll address it again next year. He might say that. I don't know. I don't know. But that's what I'm hypothesizing.

"The question is whether Mayweather is willing to go into the ring this year. It's up to him. His people would love him to do it. He may not want to do it. If Mayweather wants to fight in November, I believe the fight will be made. To me it seems – it seems, and say that, because I'm not Mayweather – that the only issue is whether he wants to fight in November."

Leonard Ellerbe, the chief executive officer of Mayweather Promotions, could not be reached for reaction on Arum's statement. Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, cited an agreement the sides made earlier this year not to speak to the media about the negotiations.

After being apprised of Arum's Wednesday comments, Schaefer still declined to comment.

"My reaction is no comment," Schaefer said. "I really can't say anything. I won't comment in any way, shape or form. You know this and anybody who has called me knows this: The only two words I'm going to say when I'm asked about this are 'No comment.' That's my comment. No comment."

Negotiations to make a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight originally began in November, shortly after Pacquiao stopped Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14 in Las Vegas to win the World Boxing Organization welterweight title.

Talks broke down in December over Mayweather's insistence for require random blood and urine testing and Pacquiao's refusal to agree.

Pacquiao eventually filed a libel lawsuit against Mayweather; his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr.; his uncle, Roger Mayweather; and Golden Boy Promotions, alleging they falsely accused him of using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. The lawsuit remains pending.

Since Pacquiao defeated Joshua Clottey on March 13 and Mayweather routed Shane Mosley on May 1, discussions aimed at making what would be the richest bout in boxing history resumed. However, nobody involved in the talks, either directly or indirectly, has been willing to speak much publicly about the matter.

Arum is believed to have been speaking directly with Al Haymon, Mayweather's adviser and de facto manager, in an effort to close the deal.

The 78-year-old promoter refused to go into specifics, such as purse split and the drug testing issue, though he indicated that they have been dealt with to his satisfaction.

"That's all been resolved," Arum said of the dispute over the drug testing. "It may be that Floyd wants to fight in May, in which case [Pacquiao will] fight [another opponent] in November and fight him in May. I am not going to talk about the specifics of the negotiations. You have my statement that there are no real issues that I can see, except whether he wants to fight now or later or not at all.

"As far as I'm concerned, we have two guys [Antonio Margarito and Cotto] in the wings who could make attractive fights for Manny, though they are certainly not as attractive as a Mayweather fight," Arum added. "But I don't want to talk about [Margarito and Cotto]. I want to make sure there is no chance for this Mayweather fight to happen this year before I talk about any other fight. Once I ascertain whether the fight is or isn't going to happen, then I'll sit with Manny and I'll explain the situations, Margarito, Cotto, 154, catch weights, all of that, and then, he'll make his choice. But I want to focus completely on making the Mayweather fight before I even address any of that."