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Pacquiao vs. Mayweather is hot topic

While having his bloody right ear drained in the postfight locker room Saturday night, Manny Pacquiao could probably still hear the chants of the sellout crowd that wants him to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. next spring.

The question is whether Mayweather was listening, too.

Or will it take the sound of coins — millions of them — for Mayweather to hear the demand that he fight Pacquiao in a battle of boxing’s greatest pound-for-pound champions this decade.

Pacquiao made boxing history at the MGM Grand, earning a 12th-round technical knockout over Miguel Cotto before a packed house of 16,160 to become the first man to win seven world championships in seven weight classes.

After taking Cotto’s WBO welterweight title and sending him to University Medical Center, Pacquiao addressed his own future. He said if Mayweather wants to fight him, fine. If not, he’ll find someone who’s willing to fight.

“I’ll have Bob Arum negotiate my next fight,” Pacquiao said of the Top Rank chairman. “I’ll fight whoever wants to fight me.”

Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, said: “It’s a fight the world wants to see. I think a fight with Mayweather would be good for boxing. That’s probably the biggest pay-per-view event. But we’ll make the best fight that’s out there.”

Arum said he would love to make a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. But not if Mayweather’s demands are unrealistic.

“It depends on what we can get Mayweather for,” Arum said. “But we’re not going to do negotiations through the newspapers.”

That’s not stopping the papers and Internet sites from fueling the rumor mill. One report has a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight headed to the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium. There has been speculation the fight could be held at the new Yankee Stadium. Even in Las Vegas, where the MGM Grand would figure to have first crack given its relationship with Pacquiao, there’s talk of trying to stage the fight at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Stadium director Daren Libonati said he has talked to Arum about using Sam Boyd and putting perhaps as many as 50,000 in his venue for Pacquiao-Mayweather.

“If you’ve got the magic of the city, why settle for 15,000 when you can bring 40,000 or 45,000?” Libonati said. “It would be an incredible experience for Las Vegas to host this fight.”

Another rumor has Mayweather demanding a 65-35 split of the purse, which has no basis for fact; Mayweather’s co-managers, Al Haymon and Leonard Ellerbe, haven’t even talked to anyone, especially Arum.

Team Pacquiao had a little fun running with the bogus report.

“If Mayweather wants a 65-35 split, he’s not going to get that,” Roach said.

Arum shot back, “We’ll offer him that split,” to which Roach responded, “Yeah, we’ll offer him 35 (percent).”

It was easy to joke Saturday in the aftermath of such a one-sided victory. Pacquiao, true to his humble roots, paid tribute to Cotto’s courage and called him his most difficult opponent to date. Pacquiao knocked him down twice.

“Cotto was very tough,” Pacquiao said. “He’s strong. He had heart.”

Cotto was treated for cuts and bruises at UMC. He was on his way home to Puerto Rico on Sunday, facing an uncertain future. Pacquiao’s future is clearer, despite not knowing his next opponent. Roach said Pacquiao is not without options aside from Mayweather.

“I love a challenge and Manny loves a challenge. I hope (a Mayweather fight) happens,” Roach said. “But if it doesn’t, there are other fights out there. He could fight (Juan Manuel) Marquez again. He could fight (Edwin) Valero. He could fight the (Shane) Mosley-(Andre) Berto winner. Those are all potential good fights.”

Arum said he thinks he could sell a third Pacquiao-Marquez fight in the spring, perhaps in March.

“I think that’s a very good fight,” Arum said. “Marquez has a style that gives Manny problems, and their first two fights were sensational.”

The first two Pacquiao-Marquez fights were at 125 and 129 pounds respectively, The first, in 2004, ended in a draw. The second, in 2008, saw Pacquiao win a 12-round split decision. Arum said a third fight would probably be at 140 pounds. Pacquiao said he has no intentions of fighting beyond welterweight, so he could easily fight at 140. That’s how much he weighed when he knocked out Ricky Hatton in May.

“Marquez probably deserves a rematch,” Roach said. “I would like that fight just to shut Marquez up.”

But Mayweather is the preferred target at this point for Team Pacquiao.

“Floyd’s very good at what he does,” Roach said. “He’s a cagey guy. But he’s fragile, and we have the speed to deal with his speed. He’s had two rotator cuff surgeries on his left shoulder. His hands are brittle. I think he would have a hard time dealing with Manny.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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