By Jake Donovan
Reports have begun swirling Wednesday evening of the official death to any chance of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather squaring off the in the spring. The majority of the uproar stemmed from a breaking story by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated quoting Bob Arum as saying Pacquiao’s return will come on June 9 in an outdoor stadium to be built on the Las Vegas Strip.
Whether Pacquiao returns on June 9 or in late May largely depends on whom he will be facing. An opponent has not yet been decided, mainly because they haven’t yet exhausted all options on what the Hall of Fame promoter insists is their primary goal.
“June 9 is our Plan B for Manny Pacquiao,” Arum told Boxingscene.com Wednesday evening. “Our Plan A is the same that it has been for the past few weeks, to fight Floyd Mayweather at the end of May.”
When exactly the fight can take place has become the latest hurdle in a superfight now more than two years in the waiting. Mayweather recently went on record during a Wednesday afternoon function to insist that he is obligated to fight on May 5 at the MGM Grand.
Arum, a Harvard-educated former lawyer, has a hard time believing that to be true, specifically from a legal precedent.
“No judge ever said that Floyd Mayweather has to fight on a certain day,” Arum states. “Sure, he has to fight before he goes to the clink on June 1. But any day in May is OK. You can read the transcript and the court minutes from that (January 6) hearing – you’ll see the judge never required his next fight to take place on May 5.”
Mayweather was to begin a 90-day sentence on January 6, only for his legal team to plead his case to have his prison term delayed by five months in order to fight in May. Among the reasons cited were the amount of revenue his fights are able generate in the Las Vegas area.
With that in mind, Team Pacquiao continues to question why Mayweather would want to restrict what is suggested to be the most lucrative fight in boxing history, to one venue when another that boasts a much larger capacity would generate that much more money.
“The outdoor stadium we are working on, will seat 38,000,” says Arum. “My initial estimates were 40,000, but it’s a little less. But you do the arithmetic – a venue more than twice the size of the MGM Grand means you bring in more than twice as much money. It’s a no-brainer.”
What’s not as cut and dry is why the fight can’t take place on May 5.
On the surface, some believe it to be just more posturing in a two-year run filled of both sides going big dick with one another and finding new reasons to not make the fight happen.
For Mayweather’s side, the insistence is that it’s May 5 or bust due to commitments on their end.
For Pacquiao’s side, it’s a matter of Rome not being built in a day.
“Why are we so insistent on the end of May – it’s a fair question,” Arum acknowledges. “We had the architects in here going over all of the plans. The earliest estimate for having the stadium completed is the beginning of May. But of course, you have to be conservative.
“A couple of extra weeks to ensure that it goes up with no lingering problems, it makes the end of the month a no-brainer, and gives Mayweather time to fight before he has to do his bit.”
The back-up plan remains the same four names in previous reports – a rematch with Miguel Cotto; a fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez; or challenges from 140 lb. champs Tim Bradley or Lamont Peterson, both of whom are willing to move up in weight for the fight.
Arum insists that he hopes for matters to not reach that point but plans to have a decision in the near future, one way or another.
“We’re going to be making a decision shortly. Hopefully it will be Mayweather. If not, then the other four remain possibilities.”
Calls to Leonard Ellerbe and Richard Schaefer (publicly authorized by Mayweather to represent his side in any negotiations to take place) seeking comment were not returned.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]