Manny Pacquiao's promoter said late Friday night that the Filipino boxing star has verbally agreed to terms to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. March 13 in a bout that has the potential to become the most lucrative in history.
Promoter Bob Arum told The Times from the Philippines that Pacquiao has not yet signed the deal, but described that as a formality. Arum declined to discuss how the mega-purse will be split among the world's top pound-for-pound fighter (Pacquiao) and the unbeaten Mayweather. An ESPN.com report late Friday said the purse will be divided evenly.
"I had a very good meeting with Manny. We're in good shape," Arum told the Times by phone from the Philippines on Saturday local time.
Arum plans to meet Monday with Richard Schaefer, chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions, who's negotiating on behalf of Mayweather. Both sides plan to release a joint statement next week, Arum said.
Reports spread quickly Friday that the much anticipated fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather will take place on March 13, surprising even Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach.
"We're happy it could be happening, but I'm surprised it's happened so quick," Roach told The Times today from Britain, where he's preparing another of his boxers for a bout.
Pacquiao's U.S. business advisor, Michael Koncz, told the Associated Press today that Arum presented "what he thought was the best proposal he can bring" during a two-hour breakfast meeting with Pacquiao in Manila.
"Manny has some additional requirements, requests, which Arum didn't think was a problem," Koncz told the AP. He said the contract still needs "fine tuning," declining to elaborate. "We all believe that it will be done," Koncz said.
Schaefer said today, "The only comment we will have is when there's a signed deal or if negotiations fall apart. Good news and bad news, neither one has happened."
A Mayweather-Pacquiao bout is expected to challenge the record 2.4 million pay-per-view buys set by the Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya in May 2007. Venues including Jerry Jones' Cowboys Stadium in Texas, a 30,000-seat outdoor site constructed by hotel magnate Steve Wynn in Las Vegas and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas are reportedly bidding to host the super-fight.
Arum said that next Thursday he, Schaefer and the head of HBO Sports, Ross Greenburg, will visit Cowboys Stadium.
Roach is already thinking of the matchup between the two star welterweights. "It'll be a very tactical fight; we'll have to be smart because Floyd's such a good counter-puncher," he said. "I don't think Floyd can hurt us, though, so we can be aggressive in the right spots."
In an interview with a television network in the Philippines, Pacquiao said, "March 13 is OK" for the Mayweather bout.
Roach said earlier this week that he thought March 13 was too soon for the fight, after Pacquiao suffered an injured right ear drum in his 12th-round technical knockout victory over Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14.
"I also thought they'd want more time to promote it, but if they can do it then, we'll be ready," said Roach, who plans to speak with Arum and Pacquiao when he returns to his Wild Card Gym in Hollywood on Monday. "Arum knows what he's doing. I'd want to start training camp with Manny by Jan. 1."
Pacquiao has previously said he didn't think the deal would get done, and he chided Mayweather for depriving the fans of action and caring most about lucrative paydays. "The difference between Floyd and others I have fought is that Floyd makes a lot of trash talk that should not be imitated by young people," Pacquiao told the Filipino television network.
A possible showdown between the unbeaten Mayweather (40-0) and the dynamic Pacquiao (50-3-2) has generated great interest in the sporting world.
Pacquiao is poised to capture his second straight "fighter of the year" honor, supplanting Mayweather as the man considered the world's best pound-for-pound fighter after Mayweather took an extended break after knocking out Ricky Hatton in December 2007.
Pacquiao ended the career of De La Hoya last year, he knocked out Hatton in the second round in May, then impressively battered Cotto in a bout that generated 1.25 million pay-per-view buys.