Pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. has had precious little to say about the fight the public has demanded for years, a bout with Manny Pacquiao — until Friday night.
Mayweather said during a Showtime interview that he wants to fight Pacquiao next and wants the fight to be May 2, the Cinco de Mayo weekend that Mayweather has regularly fought on.
“We are ready. Let’s make it happen. May 2. Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao. Let’s do it,” Mayweather said in the interview in San Antonio, where his promotional company was putting on a boxing card.
In the days before Pacquiao dropped Chris Algieri six times in a near-shutout decision to retain his welterweight title Nov. 22, he and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum launched a verbal offensive in an effort to kick-start the pressure on Mayweather.
Pacquiao even starred in a Foot Locker commercial mocking Mayweather’s supposed reluctance to face him in what would be by far the richest fight in boxing history.
Friday night’s interview included Mayweather’s first extended remarks on the prospect of the fight in quite some time, and it was the first time he directly said he wanted to fight Pacquiao next and mentioned a specific date.
The fight has been demanded by the public since 2009, and the sides have had various unsuccessful negotiations, most notably in late 2009 and early 2010, when they made a deal on all aspects of the fight except for a drug-testing protocol. The deal fell apart.
“I would love to fight Manny Pacquiao. We tried to make the fight happen years ago; we had problems with random blood and urine testing,” Mayweather said. “I just want to be on an even playing field. Now he’s in a very, very tight situation. He’s lost to [Juan Manuel] Marquez [in 2012], he’s lost to [Timothy] Bradley [by controversial decision in 2012 but avenged it in April]. Pay-per-view numbers are extremely low. He’s desperate. I wanted that fight a long time ago. I’m just waiting on them.”
Mayweather failed to mention that Pacquiao long ago agreed to be randomly tested. He also failed to mention that while Pacquiao’s pay-per-view figures have indeed been soft in recent fights, Mayweather’s have also plummeted. Three of the four fights that he has had so far under his six-fight contract with CBS/Showtime failed to reach even 900,000 buys.
Pacquiao and Arum have been pressing for the fight in recent weeks, and Arum has held talks with CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves in an effort to work out a deal under which Showtime and HBO, which has Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) under contract, would produce a joint pay-per-view. The companies did that once before for the 2002 heavyweight championship fight between Lennox Lewis, who was signed to HBO, and Mike Tyson, who was with Showtime.
Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs), however, perhaps had not heard about the Arum-Moonves talks because he told Showtime, “Of course, we have to make the fight happen on Showtime pay-per-view, because ‘Showtime Championship Boxing’ is No. 1 and will remain No. 1. I’m the man. I’m here to stay.
“Floyd Mayweather is not ducking or dodging any opponent. Bob Arum is stopping the fight. We have been trying to make this fight happen behind the scenes for years now, but the fans and the people have been fooled because they have been listening to people just on one side. Now it’s time for us to talk. We want the fight.”
Asked about his chief motivation for wanting the fight, Mayweather said, “I know that he’s not on my level. The fans would love to see the fight. And, of course, I want to go out with a bang.”
Then Mayweather, in a rant that sounded like he was cutting a WWE promo, spoke directly to Pacquiao and Arum.
“So let’s make this fight happen. Manny Pacquiao, Bob Arum, you guys have been ducking us for years,” Mayweather said. “We’re tired of you guys fooling the public, fooling the critics. You guys didn’t want to take random blood and urine testing, so that’s why it didn’t happen. Then I offered you $40 million, then you didn’t want to make the fight happen. You lost twice, now you coming back begging for the same money. That’s not gonna happen. Let’s make the fight happen for the people and the fans. Mayweather versus Pacquiao, May 2nd, Cinco de Mayweather.”
The Wynn sports book in Las Vegas has posted odds on the potential fight, opening Mayweather as a -260 favorite over Pacquiao.
May 2 is already the target date for an HBO pay-per-view fight in negations between middleweight champion Miguel Cotto and former junior middleweight titleholder Canelo Alvarez for what would be the first fight of the deal Alvarez recently signed with HBO after leaving Showtime.