The deal has not been signed, but the megafight boxing fans have been demanding between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. has taken a major step toward fruition.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, said Wednesday all negotiating points have been worked out for the sport's two biggest stars to meet Nov. 13, most likely in Las Vegas. All that's needed is Mayweather's signature on a contract.
"There's no longer any issues," Arum said. "The question is whether Mayweather is willing to fight this year."
The sides could not come to an agreement last winter for a March fight. But much has changed since then.
Pacquiao, who dominated Joshua Clottey on March 13, said he is willing to submit to random drug testing, something he was not willing to do the first time. His resistance to drug testing ultimately was a deal-breaker.
Pacquiao was elected to Congress in the Philippines in May and was sworn in this week. He has set aside an eight-week window to prepare for a mid-November fight.
Mayweather soundly defeated Shane Mosley on May 1. But Mayweather has not committed to fighting again in 2010. Arum said if the fight is to take place this year, Mayweather needs to make a decision by the middle of July.
"It's up to him," Arum said. "But we can't wait forever. We're committed to fighting on Nov. 13. We would like it to be Mayweather. But if he doesn't want to fight, we'll fight someone else, and we can revisit a fight with Floyd next year."
Arum said if Mayweather decides not to fight Pacquiao in November, he will move forward with pairing Pacquiao against Antonio Margarito. Another possibility would be Miguel Cotto, who was whipped by Pacquiao on Nov. 14. But Cotto bounced back with an impressive performance last month to defeat Yuri Foreman and win the WBA super welterweight title with a ninth-round technical knockout.
Yahoo! Sports first reported the news Wednesday.
Arum would not go into specifics of the reported deal. All he would say was that issues involving the fighters' purses and drug-testing protocol have been resolved.
"I'm not going to get into that right now," Arum said, citing a media blackout that has existed since negotiations began several weeks ago.
Yahoo! Sports reported that Arum reportedly has been dealing directly with Al Haymon, Mayweather's co-manager and adviser. Arum would not confirm whether that was true.
Leonard Ellerbe, chief executive officer of Mayweather Promotions, did not return phone calls Wednesday seeking comment.
Arum said he thinks the fight would be in Las Vegas, at either the MGM Grand Garden or the Thomas & Mack Center, and not at Dallas Cowboys Stadium, where Pacquiao defeated Clottey in March before a crowd of 50,994.
"The venue issue is about where it's most remunerate, and because of Manny's popularity with Asian gamblers, it would be at the MGM or Thomas & Mack," Arum said. "Dallas doesn't have the gaming aspect to match Las Vegas."
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913.