LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. sat on the apron of a boxing ring surrounded by reporters Wednesday and essentially said it's Manny Pacquiao or bust May 5.
It sounds like bust, again.
Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum shot down any hope of the bout taking place on that date, saying, "We'd be leaving too much money on the table. We'd be happy to fight at the end of May."
And with those words, the most anticipated bout of at least the last quarter of a century once again fizzled away.
Mayweather and Pacquiao are the two best fighters and top attractions in boxing. Since 2009, fans have clamored for a bout between them, but have been disappointed repeatedly because the sides haven't been able to come to an agreement.
On Dec. 21, Mayweather was sentenced to six months in jail, with 90 days suspended, after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. He was to report to the Clark County Detention Center on Jan. 6, but on that day Judge Melissa Saragosa delayed the start of the sentence until June 1 so that Mayweather could fight May 5.
And therein lies the crux: If Saragosa's order was specifically for Mayweather to fight May 5, and May 5 only, then it would be up to Arum and Pacquiao to adjust in order to make the bout. But if her order was simply for him to fight prior to Mayweather reporting to jail June 1, then there should be flexibility in scheduling.
Arum says he wants to schedule the bout May 26 in order to have enough time to build a 40,000-seat temporary stadium on the site of the old Frontier hotel. Ellerbe scoffed at that notion and pointed out, correctly, that the vast majority of all significant pay-per-view fights that have taken place in boxing over the last 15 years have been at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
A call to Saragosa's office seeking comment Wednesday was not returned, but her answer holds the key as to whether there is hope that the fight will occur in the spring.
Given the history between the sides, there are plenty of smarter bets to make than gambling that Mayweather and Pacquiao will share a ring in May.
For his part, Mayweather insists he's eager to make the bout the world has been demanding. He said unequivocally he would not face Robert Guerrero, a bout that had been rumored if a Pacquiao match couldn't be made, and seemed less than optimistic that he'd fight Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. He said he wanted to fight Pacquiao and only Pacquiao.
Significantly, either Pacquiao or Mayweather has headlined a bout at the MGM Grand Garden on the first Saturday in May in four of the last five years. On May 5, 2007, Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya in a bout that set a pay-per-view record with 2.45 million buys. Neither of them fought on the first Saturday of May in 2008, but Pacquiao knocked out Ricky Hatton on May 2, 2009. In 2010, Mayweather defeated Shane Mosley on May 1, then last year, Pacquiao defeated Mosley on May 7.
Mayweather's plea Wednesday was to fight Pacquiao on that date.
"People around the world are anticipating a fight between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao," Mayweather said Wednesday. "What's been so unbelievable is that the guy said he agreed to take the random blood and urine tests, so I said, 'OK, so now let's make [the fight] happen. Let's give the fans and the people what they want to see.'
"People all around the world want to see Mayweather versus Pacquiao and that's a fight that I really, really want. I'm the best in the sport and I'm going to continue to show the world I'm the best. There is no fight I want more than the Manny Pacquiao fight. I guess he said he agreed to fight. The only thing that is stopping this fight right now, that I truly believe is stopping the fight, is Bob Arum."
Pacquiao has not spoken to U.S. media since the judge delayed Mayweather's jail sentence so that a May 5 fight could be scheduled. Arum was in the Philippines last week and Yahoo! Sports requested a telephone interview with Pacquiao, who had spoken to several Filipino outlets. Arum said then that he "would try to make it happen, but there are no promises." Arum said at the time that Pacquiao was filming a commercial and likely wouldn't have time. The interview never occurred and Top Rank has done nothing to try to schedule it.
Pacquiao did tell several Filipino outlets he would fight Mayweather in May, but he parroted Arum in those interviews and said the bout would have to be May 26.
Mayweather said he is legally obligated to fight May 5 and can't fight on another date. He said he wants to "give the people what they're demanding" and said he was focusing exclusively on a fight against Pacquiao on May 5.
He said flat-out that he would not fight Guerrero on that date under any circumstances and said Alvarez was unlikely.
"I think 'Canelo' would be a big bout, but I think he needs to get a little more experience under his belt and then eventually we could make that fight happen down the line," Mayweather said.
Mayweather said he would consider middleweight champion Sergio Martinez on May 5 if a Pacquiao fight could not be made, providing Martinez could make 150 pounds. Martinez, who is the third-ranked fighter behind Mayweather and Pacquiao in the Yahoo! Sports rankings, would do that, promoter Lou DiBella said. "It would hurt him to make 150, but he could do it," DiBella said. "We've had this conversation and he has told me he could do it. If Mayweather wants to fight on May 5, Sergio absolutely, unequivocally would do it. He would want the opportunity to fight the best fighter in the world and he believes that Mayweather is the best fighter in the world right now."
Martinez would have to abandon a planned March 17 fight with Matthew Macklin, but given the money involved in a Mayweather fight, that would not be an issue.
"If Sergio Martinez can make 150, let's make the fight happen," Mayweather said. "Like I said, there are no excuses. I'm a little different than other guys. He's got a very, very impressive style. But like I said before, my main focus is a Manny Pacquiao fight."
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