Promoter Bob Arum arrived in the Philippines and expected to start face-to-face talks Wednesday with Manny Pacquiao to try to reach terms for a mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Despite reports Tuesday that Mayweather agreed to terms and that a Pacquiao fight was virtually set, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach cautioned Wednesday that that idea was premature because the Filipino star hadn't reviewed any contract terms.
Roach, in a telephone conversation from England, said, "Manny believes he should get a 60-40 [purse] split too, because he did better in pay-per-view than Mayweather this year. Manny's the bigger draw."
Roach is referring to the 1.25 million pay-per-view buys for Pacquiao's 12th-round technical knockout of Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14, compared to the 1 million buys for Mayweather's fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in September. Yet Mayweather's December 2007 bout against Ricky Hatton generated more pay-per-view sales than Pacquiao-Hatton in May.
"I'm obviously over here to talk to Manny," Arum said from the Philippines. "At this point, I've got to find out what my fighter wants to do."
By being there, Arum may avoid the drawn-out theatrics that occurred when Pacquiao handlers complicated the negotiations before his Hatton fight. Arum and Roach were kept at arm's length, and several Arum proposals and Hatton offers were met with delayed counterproposals that nearly led Hatton to walk.
Alone, Arum boarded a flight to Manila, where he was to meet with Pacquiao and his business advisors.
"Bob will sit there and walk everybody through it, so Manny has a full grasp of the situation," Arum's lead matchmaker, Bruce Trampler, said. "He has to respect the culture. Everybody will have eaten and had their libations, and then Bob will start talking turkey."
Roach said his agent, Nick Khan, told him "Arum had a [Mayweather] deal together" when he left the U.S.
This could be a game of leverage too. Mayweather's camp may want to appear more receptive to a deal, casting Pacquiao as the one holding up the welterweight super-bout for more money.
Arum revealed only that he has negotiated with Mayweather's designated promoter, Richard Schaefer. Schaefer declined to comment.
Arum and Roach both said they are uncertain whether a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout has to be fought by March 13 because of Pacquiao's planned run for a congressional seat in the Philippines in May. HBO, which will televise the bout on pay-per-view if it occurs, instructed promoters to make the fight on whatever date is possible.
Roach prefers a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout on May 1.
"March 13 is too fast a turnaround," Roach said. "Manny has a broken [right] eardrum" suffered in the Cotto fight. "I'd like to have more time. I hope the fight happens, yes, but I want us to be in the best possible shape."
Sports book directors in Las Vegas are already posting odds on the unsigned fight. Jay Kornegay of the Las Vegas Hilton has opened the fight as a pick-'em after two other books split by making Mayweather or Pacquiao nearly 2-1 favorites.
"I love Pacquiao, but people forget how good Mayweather is: He never gets touched and rarely looks like he breaks a sweat," Kornegay said. A Pacquiao-Mayweather fight "is obviously a huge event, and doing it right before [college basketball's] March Madness would be a great time."