De La Hoya says superfight has 'never been closer'

LAS VEGAS – Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have “never been closer” to setting up the monumental superfight that boxing craves so desperately, according to Mayweather’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya.

De La Hoya insisted in a telephone interview with Yahoo! Sports on Friday that his confidence in the two pound-for-pound kings finally squaring off was at an all-time high, following more than two years of wrangling and bitterness.

“I am very optimistic now,” De La Hoya said, as Pacquiao finalized his preparations for his Saturday night clash with Juan Manuel Marquez. “In the past there has always been something in the way.

“I believe if he gets past Marquez, Mayweather already has his date set for May 5 and he gave orders for the biggest fight out there. It is no secret that fight is Manny Pacquiao.

“Now we can say Floyd Mayweather wants to fight Manny Pacquiao, there is no doubt about it. And Pacquiao has given in and agreed to the drug testing so it is looking good.”

Initial talks regarding the fight took place in 2009 and have restarted several times since. However, all that happened was a series of bitter exchanges, with Pacquiao steadfastly refusing to agree to Mayweather’s enhanced drug testing demands and the American holding firm on his position.

Now both fighters appear to be in favor of a match-up, the pressure is on the rival promotional companies to thrash out a deal.

De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions has not always enjoyed the most civil of relationships with Bob Arum and Top Rank and those differences will need to be put aside in order for what could be the most lucrative fight in history to be signed.

“It is up to me and [Golden Boy CEO] Richard Schaefer and Bob Arum to sort things out for the fighters,” De La Hoya said. I know from Mayweather’s point of view he is back and he wants the biggest fight – Pacquiao.”

De La Hoya’s comments may still be met with some skepticism at Top Rank. When Mayweather’s adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, announced last week that his man would fight in May and wanted Pacquiao, Arum expressed his doubts.

Boxing fans have seen the dream fight collapse too many times in the past to start celebrating until the contracts have been formally inked, although it does seem that the night the sport craves more than any other is getting closer to reality.

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