The "exclusivity period" for Floyd Mayweather Jr. to sign what appears to be a done deal to fight WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao passed at 3 a.m. Saturday without a peep from "Money" Mayweather despite the prospect of a bout that could gross up to $100 million.
In a late-night media conference call minutes after the deadline passed, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said Pacquiao now will negotiate a Nov. 13 fight against either WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto or against Antonio Margarito for the vacant WBC 154-pound title, which would give Pacquiao a title in a record eighth weight class. Even so, Arum left the door ajar for Mayweather for the next 10 days or so while he talks with Cotto and Margarito.
"If Floyd suddenly emerged and said he wanted to do the fight, there would be nothing opposed to getting together and doing the fight," Arum said. "That is our position, and I hope it is as clear as I can make it."
Calling it pure speculation, Arum suggested Mayweather's failure to sign on the dotted line is related to concern he could be without his regular trainer, uncle Roger Mayweather, who is facing an assault charge. "It would be a shame if it didn't happen," Arum said, "but I really believe this issue with the uncle has an affect. I would think that there would be a lot of reluctance going into this big fight without [his] trainer."
Still, Mayweather fought once before without his uncle and everything about his tortured negotiations with Pacquiao screams Mayweather's reluctance to risk his undefeated record against the senator from the Philippines. Their rancorous negotiations for a March fight played out in the media and broke down in January when Pacquiao didn't accept random blood and urine testing for performance enhancing drugs.
This time, HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg convinced the two sides not to speak to the media, and he served as the go-between for super-secret talks between Arum and attorney Al Haymon, representing Mayweather. Arum said he assumed Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, was fully informed when Golden Boy owner Oscar De La Hoya recently said the fighters had reached agreement.
In fact, Arum also believes the deal is done and said there were no hints from the Mayweather camp about any contractual issues. "They kept assuring Greenburg that an agreement was imminent and that Haymon was working on it and expected an answer shortly and it just never materialized," Arum said. "I don't blame Haymon. Based on what Greenburg said, Haymon really tried to put the fight together."
Asked if Mayweather's camp agreed to Pacquiao's drug-testing concessions, Arum said, "I don't want to get into specifics, but I think that issue was resolved . . . That's what it seemed from what I was hearing from Ross." Neither Greenburg nor Schaefer responded to Newsday requests for comment.
So, it appears Pacquiao will settle for Cotto or Margarito. A Cotto bout likely would take place at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and a Margarito fight likely would wind up in Monterrey, Mexico because of his problems gaining a U.S. license after his California suspension for illegal hand wraps.
But Arum and Pacquiao aren't ready to give up on making the richest fight in boxing history. "Floyd Mayweather is not saying he will not ever fight Manny Pacquiao," Arum said. "There is always next year."
Notes and quotes: Zab Judah scored a third-round TKO over Jose Armando Santa Cruz Friday night at Prudential Center and proclaimed himself ready for 140-pound titleholders, Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander or Amir Khan. "I'm the best junior welterweight in the world," Judah said. "They're all holding something that's mine. Christmas is over. I need my belts back."