Bob Arum and Richard Schaefer were in Southern California on Friday, separated by no more than 20 miles, when the gavel sounded in Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa's Las Vegas courtroom, making Floyd Mayweather Jr., for a few months at least, a free man.
For a brief moment, the judge's unexpected ruling permitting Mayweather to delay a 90-day jail sentence until June 1 in order to compete in a boxing match on May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena opened the tantalizing possibility that a fight between the two greatest boxers of their time might actually occur.
Sports fans have been salivating over a bout between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao since late 2009. At a minimum, it's one of the most anticipated bouts of the last 25 years.
Monday, though, two of the central figures in the negotiations essentially killed any hope of the fight happening in the first half of the year.
Top Rank founder Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, was in Guam Monday on his way to the Philippines to meet Pacquiao to discuss his next fight. Saragosa had sentenced Mayweather on Dec. 21 to 90 days in the Clark County Detention Center on a domestic violence charge, so when Arum scheduled his trip to see Pacquiao, he did not believe Mayweather would be available.
He planned to present Pacquiao with the pros and cons of bouts against Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, Miguel Cotto and Lamont Peterson.
During a layover in Guam, Arum said he would add Mayweather to his discussion with Pacquiao and adviser Michael Koncz. But he again said that Pacquiao would not be available to fight on May 5, both because he won't be cleared to spar until April 1 because of a cut he sustained in his Nov. 12 fight, and also because there will not be enough time to construct a 40,000-seat temporary stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.
"There is no magic to the May 5 date," Arum said. "I understand there is magic to May, because [Mayweather] has to go to the hoosegow on June 1. I get that, but the magic is in [making the fight in] May, not necessarily on May 5."
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Arum said it would be a mistake to put the fight at the MGM, which seats roughly 16,000 for major boxing matches, without considering the possibility of constructing a temporary stadium at the southwest corner of Las Vegas Blvd. and Spring Mountain Road – the site of the old Frontier hotel.
Arum said he has already had lengthy discussions with the owners of the site about renting the land, as well with as casino magnates Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson about building a temporary stadium and putting up a site fee to host the event.
"If we just put the fight at the MGM, we would be leaving $20 million on the table," Arum said.
But Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's manager and close friend, said his side had received repeated indications from Arum that he didn't want the fight.
Ellerbe said Mayweather had authorized Golden Boy Promotions to work on putting together his May 5 bout. Because of a long-time feud between Top Rank and Golden Boy, an arbiter, retired federal judge Daniel Weinstein, serves as an intermediary when the sides discuss business.
"We reached out to Judge Weinstein and asked him to contact Bob Arum and the feedback we got back from the judge was that Bob Arum was not interested in doing a fight [between Pacquiao and] Floyd Mayweather Jr.," Ellerbe said. "I have the letter in my office. And that's been Bob's position. After the Marquez fight [in Las Vegas on Nov. 12], Bob said the same thing after the press conference."
Ellerbe said the reason that Arum wasn't interested in pursuing a bout with Mayweather, despite the belief by most experts that it would be the largest-grossing fight in history, is because it wouldn't be as lucrative to Arum as other fights.
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Ellerbe said that if Arum matches Pacquiao with either Marquez, Bradley, Cotto or Peterson, he will get a share of the revenues from both sides. In a Mayweather fight, Ellerbe said, Arum will only get money from Pacquiao's side.
"His kid is a very, very good fighter, an excellent fighter, and he's one of the top two pay-per-view stars in this sport," Ellerbe said of Pacquiao. "He is doing really significant numbers, but when he fights, Arum controls both sides and so he gets the money on both ends.
"He's controlling both sides. He's the one writing the checks. He's the one controlling the checks and determining who gets paid what. He's receiving the revenue and directing where the revenue goes. Arum is doing better in that situation, where he takes a cut out of each guy's side, than he is if he puts his kid into a fight with Floyd."
Ellerbe said he expected to announce Mayweather's opponent for May 5 "sometime later this week, toward the end of the week." Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Robert Guerrero are the front-runners for that post.
Asked if he or anyone at Golden Boy would reach out to Arum in a last-ditch bid to try to get a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight done, Ellerbe said he had no plans to do so.
When he was pressed on whether he would agree to fight later in May, as Arum said Monday is feasible, Ellerbe was coy.
If they could reach contractual terms on everything but the date, Ellerbe was asked, would he consider moving the fight off of May 5 and to later in the month to accommodate Arum's demand?
"Let him call me and I'll tell him what we'd do," Ellerbe said. "I don't need to tell you that answer. I'll tell Bob Arum our answer."
On Monday, Pacquiao told a Filipino reporter that he planned to insist that Arum reach out to Mayweather's side in order to make the fight.
Pacquiao said he wanted to fight Mayweather and didn't want to be blamed if it didn't happen.
"I am meeting with my promoter, Bob Arum on Tuesday and I will insist that the fight with Mayweather be given the preference than the four others in the list I will fight next," Pacquiao said in a telephone interview with PhilBoxing.com.
Arum insisted he wanted to make the fight and that he didn't think he'd have difficulty reaching terms with Pacquiao. He said though many are downplaying the significance of the cut, it is a legitimate issue.
Las Vegas plastic surgeon Jeffrey Roth, who dates Arum's stepdaughter, stitched Pacquiao on Nov. 12 and has told Arum he believes Pacquiao will be able to spar on April 1.
"I'm not on an expert on that and neither are you," Arum said. "Jeffrey Roth is saying he should be good to go on April 1. If he's fighting on May 5, that's a problem, because he wouldn't have the time to spar.
"But this is not that I don't want to make this fight or that Manny does not want it. To the contrary, we very much want it. But we have to go about things intelligently and that's what we have been doing."
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