Las Vegas has finally crossed the finish line to land the March 13 megafight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, sources close to both fighters said Saturday.
The MGM Grand Garden, despite a seating capacity of only 16,200, appears to have won out over the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which could seat 100,000 for the bout.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef said late Saturday the deal with the MGM Grand is not complete.
“We’re finalizing the details,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have it done this coming week.”
A source close to Mayweather said: “Nothing is signed. The talks are ongoing. It’s getting close, but there’s no deal in place yet.”
DuBoef’s boss, Top Rank founder and chairman Bob Arum, said last week he wanted to have a site for the fight locked up before Christmas. DuBoef has been handling site negotiations with Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer for the past 10 days, since Schaefer abruptly canceled a planned trip to Dallas on Dec. 9 to meet with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Jones had made an initial offer of $25 million. Dallas Mavericks owner and fellow billionaire Mark Cuban was interested in partnering with Jones to bring the fight to Texas. It is not known whether Jones had sweetened his offer.
While the MGM Grand cannot compete with the Cowboys’ massive stadium from a seating standpoint, it can pool resources with other MGM Mirage properties to have as many as 50,000 seats available between the live gate and closed-circuit seating. Closed-circuit locations could include the MGM Grand conference center, the Mandalay Bay Events Center and venues at the newly christened CityCenter.
MGM Mirage can offer hotel rooms, food and beverage capabilities and other amenities that Jones can’t. Another factor in the negotiations is the MGM Grand’s longstanding business relationship with Top Rank and Golden Boy, as well as Mayweather’s promotional company.
Richard Sturm, president of entertainment and sports for MGM Mirage who has been negotiating with duBoef and Schaefer, said through a spokesman that it is not an appropriate time to comment.
The Grand Garden has hosted both boxers’ most recent fights: Mayweather’s return Sept. 19 when he defeated Juan Manuel Marquez after a 21-month layoff, and Pacquiao’s 12th-round TKO victory over Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14.
Arum, who like Mayweather lives in Las Vegas, has said from the beginning of the negotiations he would like to see the fight in his hometown. However, Arum said it was important to consider all bidders, especially after Jones’ huge $25 million offer. But it appears that despite having the smaller venue, the MGM is going to win out to play host to boxing’s biggest fight in years.
“When we’re ready to release a statement, we will let everyone know,” duBoef said.
• GOLDEN BOY SIGNINGS — Veteran junior welterweight Nate Campbell and Sergio Mora, a former world junior middleweight champion, signed promotional contracts with Golden Boy Promotions.
The 37-year-old Campbell (33-5-1 with 25 knockouts) is a former lightweight champion. His latest fight, against Timothy Bradley in August for the WBO light welterweight title, was called a no contest after Campbell sustained a bad cut over his left eye in the third round and couldn’t continue.
Mora (21-1-1, five KOs) was a former champion on the TV reality series “The Contender.” The 29-year-old defeated the late Vernon Forrest in 2008 to win the WBC light middleweight belt, then lost it in a rematch later in the year.
• STILL WAITING — The Nevada Athletic Commission is waiting for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. to respond to its complaint that he tested positive for a banned substance before his fight against Troy Rowland on Nov. 14 at the MGM Grand Garden.
Chavez reportedly tested positive for Furosemide, otherwise known as Lasix, a diuretic on Nevada’s banned substance list. He has until Thursday to respond, and a hearing is expected to be in January. If the commission rules against him, he could be fined and/or suspended.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.