Boxing’s biggest fight in years moved another step toward reality with Manny Pacquiao reportedly agreeing to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. on March 13.
However, no deal has been finalized, neither fighter has signed a contract, and no venue has been decided.
Pacquiao’s longtime adviser, Michael Koncz, told The Associated Press on Friday that other than a few details, Pacquiao was fine with the proposal submitted by his promoter, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. Arum and the Filipino boxing idol met for two hours over breakfast Thursday in Manila.
“Manny has some additional requirements, requests, which Arum didn’t think was a problem,” said Koncz, who would not disclose terms for the fight. “The requests of Manny were so realistic that Arum doesn’t feel it’s a problem and it’s pretty much a done deal.”
Koncz said the contract still needs fine-tuning but added, “We all believe that it will be done.”
Pacquiao told GMA Television in the Philippines: “March 13 is OK. The difference between Floyd and others I have fought is that Floyd makes a lot of trash talk that should not be imitated by young people.”
Arum could not be reached for comment Friday, and a Top Rank spokesman said no statement was forthcoming until both fighters — and lawyers for both sides — signed off on the deal.
Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer, who is representing Mayweather in negotiations, acknowledged the reports out of the Philippines but declined to elaborate.
“Until we have a signed contract or the deal falls through, I will not comment,” Schaefer said.
Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 knockouts) is coming off a 12th-round technical knockout of welterweight Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14 at the MGM Grand Garden. He injured his right ear in the fight but should be ready to train in a few weeks, Koncz said. A Pacquiao camp typically lasts up to eight weeks, usually starting in the Philippines before moving to the Los Angeles gym of his longtime trainer, Freddie Roach.
“Nobody knows his body better than Manny,” he said. “If Manny feels (a March 13 date gives him) plenty of time to rest and recover, then you know, he has to do what he feels is right.”
Having the fight March 13 also clears Pacquiao’s schedule in time for him to campaign for a congressional seat in the Philippines. The election is May 10.
Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) has been working out since an impressive 12-round unanimous decision over Juan Manuel Marquez on Sept. 19. Though he has fought only once in two years, Mayweather is a slight betting favorite (minus-120) over Pacquiao. Pacquiao, who opened at minus-160, is an even-money underdog at Station Casinos.
The fight venue remains one of the crucial undecided details. Las Vegas, home to Arum and Mayweather, remains the favorite, with the focus on the 16,200-seat MGM Grand Garden or a temporary 30,000-seat outdoor arena on the vacant former site of the Frontier on the Strip. The Thomas & Mack Center, seating 19,000, is unavailable March 13 because the finals of the Mountain West Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are being played that day.
Dallas and New Orleans also have expressed strong interest in hosting the fight, which would be contested at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds.
Schaefer said Las Vegas deserves first crack at landing the bout.
“Las Vegas is the boxing capital of the world,” he said. “A fight of this magnitude deserves to be in Las Vegas.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913.