It's Official: Pacquiao Wants Mayweather

It’s the fight that everybody in the boxing world wants. Even casual fans of the sport – hell, even people who don’t know the first thing about boxing – seem to want this fight. ↵

↵And now it appears that Manny Pacquiao wants it too. After weeks in which there has been a revolving list of potential opponents for Pacquiao’s next fight that included Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, Edwin Valero and even Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the fighter himself has set his focus on the superfight with Floyd Mayweather that the public is clamoring for. ↵

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↵According to this piece over at Boxing Scene, Pacquiao recently told the Bangkok Post that he isn’t interested in facing either Cotto or Mosley and that he will wait to announce his next fight until after the Mayweather/Juan Manuel Marquez fight on July 18th. He also stated that he expects Mayweather to win that fight, and that if he does, a Mayweather fight is his primary aim for the fall. ↵

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↵“Mayweather has a lot of advantages,” Pacquiao said. “He is faster than Marquez and should be able to win. If he does, then I’d like to fight him, although that is down to my promotional team.” ↵

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↵That promotional team, headed by Bob Arum and Top Rank, has seemed to be actively avoiding the Mayweather morass since Pacquiao destroyed Ricky Hatton on May 2nd, the reason being Arum’s longstanding feud with Mayweather (he was once Floyd’s promoter) and in particular, Floyd’s business manager, Al Haymon. ↵

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↵To avoid that tortured negotiation, Arum has been aggressively pushing Cotto in the press for Pacquiao’s next fight. Making the Cotto fight obviously would be a less prickly and more remunerative endeavor for Arum, in that Cotto is promoted by ... Bob Arum. ↵

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↵From the get-go, this has been a blatantly self-serving public stance for Arum to take, as he’s pushing aside the biggest and best fight he could make for his fighter in the interests of a far less lucrative and arguably more dangerous opponent with only one upside – it’s an easier and more profitable deal for Arum himself. ↵

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↵Thankfully, it looks like Arum’s self interest is only going to get him so far. He can talk Cotto until he’s blue in the face, but it’s becoming more and more clear that neither Cotto nor Pacquiao are much interested in making that fight, primarily because Pacquiao doesn’t want to fight Cotto at 147 pounds, and Cotto doesn’t want to go below 145. ↵

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↵One imagines that there will be similar weight problems in negotiating with Mayweather (let’s face it – there will be so many problems in negotiating with Mayweather), but the fact is that Floyd, while comfortable at 147, casts far from the imposing welterweight shadow size-wise that Cotto does. Floyd has agreed to fight Marquez at 144, and I can envision the Pacquiao fight getting made for the same catch-weight. ↵

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↵So now it all comes down to that Mayweather/Marquez fight, with the gigantic Mayweather/Pacquiao extravaganza hanging in the balance. One expects Floyd to beat Marquez, and yet ... there are necessarily doubts when dealing with a fighter of Marquez’s caliber. In the estimation of most boxing insiders, Juan Manuel Marquez is either the best or the second best pound-for-pound boxer in the sport, depending on how one feels about his controversial fight with Pacquiao in March of last year. But Marquez is fighting way out of his weight class against Floyd, and on paper, all the advantages – size, speed, defense – are with Mayweather. ↵

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↵Marquez just can’t be dismissed, however, especially when there is so much at stake. Though Pacquiao clearly is gearing himself up for a big fight with Floyd, he has also said that he would fight Marquez again rather than Mosley or Cotto should Marquez defeat Mayweather on July 18th. When you consider the fact that getting himself a third fight with Pacquiao has seemed to be Marquez’s sole purpose in waking up in the morning for the last year or so, to say that Marquez will be motivated to beat Mayweather is to understate the case considerably. ↵

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↵In conclusion, given Pacquiao’s recent statements, it now looks like the only person left standing in the way of a Mayweather/Pacquiao fight is an undersized Mexican with an oversized heart. Given what I’ve seen of Mexican fighters in my lifetime, I say, to put it mildly, that’s no small obstacle. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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