By Keith Idec
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has declined to answered many Manny Pacquiao questions as his welterweight title fight against Victor Ortiz draws near.
But the undefeated five-division champion didn’t hesitate when talk-show host Conan O’Brien asked him about boxing Pacquiao on O’Brien’s TBS show Monday night.
“I have to ask you — it’s my job — before we go,” O’Brien said toward the end of Mayweather’s interview. “Do you think you’ll ever fight Manny Pacquiao? Do you think that’s going to happen?”
“Hopefully,” Mayweather responded. “I mean, you know, if you’re the best you’ve got to take the test. And, you know, I represent the red, white and blue. I represented [the United States], at the ’96 Olympics. I represented this country. And I just want to be fair, be on an even playing field. You know, he’s from another country, and all I ask is for him to take the test.”
O’Brien then asked if Mayweather was referring to testing for performance-enhancing drugs.
“Just random urine and blood tests,” Mayweather said, “which I’m doing for this fight and I do for every fight, just to clean up the sport of boxing.”
“So if he does that,” O’Brien asked, “you would fight him?”
“Absolutely,” Mayweather said.
Many, including the Philippines’ Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs), have speculated that Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs) will fight Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) on Saturday night in Las Vegas because Ortiz, like Pacquiao, is a southpaw. Whether Mayweather’s fight against Ortiz amounts to Pacquiao practice remains to be seen, but there’s seemingly more hope today than there was this time last year that the biggest fight that can be made in boxing is a realistic possibility.
Among other things, that would require a Mayweather win Saturday night and a Pacquiao victory over rival Juan Manuel Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs) in their third fight Nov. 12 in Las Vegas.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.