It’s really happening this time, folks.
The Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Manny Pacquiao superfight that America -- and the rest of the boxing-loving world -- has been waiting for is apparently back on the negotiating table.
After a couple of years filled with nothing but back-and-forth allegations of impropriety and dishonesty, needless finger-pointing, and nonsensical mind games, two of the sport’s biggest stars are apparently headed for a straight-on collision on May 5, 2012. Or, at least that’s the case if you believe longtime Mayweather advisor Leonard Ellerbe, who said that on Wednesday night his client reaffirmed a desire to square off against the best of the best in his next fight.
"Floyd made it very clear that he wants to give the fans the biggest fights that are out there. He wants to stay active," Ellerbe told Dan Rafael of ESPN. "We're going to do everything in our power to make the biggest fight out there for the fans and we all know what the fight is."
And who would the “biggest fight out there” entail Mayweather squaring off against? Ellerbe answered that too.
"We're looking to make the biggest fight possible and everyone knows what that fight is, the little fella."
For the first time in a long time, Mayweather and his advisors appear to be definitively suggesting that they would be open to legitimate, good-faith negotiations with the Pacquiao camp. A move that comes a mere week after Top Rank boss Bob Arum said that a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao would never happen because the former is deathly afraid of the latter’s right hand.
That sentiment doesn’t appear to have deterred the undefeated Mayweather, though. He’s so enthused about the prospect of fighting Pacquiao, in fact, that he and his people have already contacted Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer and told him that, one way or another, they plan to be in the ring on May 5.
"I'm very excited that the sport's biggest pay-per-view star is going to be back on May 5,” he told ESPN. “We have informed the pay-per-view industry and I have the arena on hold. I'm excited to continue my relationship with Floyd and his team. It's always fun to work with Floyd."
Mayweather, of course, earned a highly controversial 42nd consecutive victory this past September when he knocked out Victor Ortiz in the fourth round of their WBC welterweight showdown. The win came in contentious fashion because the undefeated superstar hit his opponent with what many perceived to be a sucker punch while the referee gave unclear directions regarding whether the fight was on or off.
Pacquiao, on the flip side, has a match against longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez scheduled for November 12. Although the pair has shared quite a storied history, most boxing aficionados agree that the Filipino champion will handle his champion swiftly and most likely with a quick and efficient knock out.
As far as what’s rejuvenated the prospect of a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao dream match – that’s anyone’s guess, really.
Some think that Mayweather had been planning to fight Pacquiao all along and was simply playing the denial game while waiting for the opportune time to strike PR gold. With Pacquiao in the headlines these days hyping up his bout with Marquez, Mayweather gets to siphon off some of that attention all the while capitalizing off of some additional eyes that are on boxing this week that don’t pay attention to the sport in general.
Others suggest that perhaps it was Pacquiao finally agreeing to take certain USADA random blood tests that re-sparked negotiations.
"It's great to hear that they are now ready to take the same USADA random blood and urine tests that Floyd, Shane Mosley and Victor Ortiz have already taken. This is great for the sport of boxing and I commend Manny Pacquiao for stepping up to the plate," Ellerbe recently told Fighthype.com.
If the drug testing issues are all figured out, then money will be a cinch. Mayweather has already gone on record saying that he was fine with a 50-50 split, and Arum later confirmed this much. Of course, after Arum confirmed that Mayweather wasn’t asking for too much money, Pacquiao came out and contradicted his guy and said that Mayweather was asking for too much money.
Take what you will from that Top Rank misunderstanding.
Either way, this is absolutely monumental for the sport of boxing. With less than two weeks remaining before yet another awful, surefire Pacquiao KO, it’s refreshing to know that a real match is on the horizon.
Assuming Pacquiao agrees to take it.