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Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao: The only fight fans want to see

HBO president of sports says actions already taking place to make fight happen

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Steve Marcus

Manny Pacquiao reacts following his WBO welterweight title fight against Miguel Cotto Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Pacquiao vs Cotto

Manny Pacquiao captured his unprecedented seventh title in a seventh weight division with a twelfth-round TKO of Miguel Cotto Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Pacquiao vs. Cotto

Miguel Cotto (L) takes a punch from Manny Pacquiao during their WBO welterweight title fight Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Launch slideshow »
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Manny Pacquiao makes boxing history

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Las Vegas Sun boxing/MMA writer Brett Okamoto sits down with fellow sports writer Ryan Greene and videographer Christine Killimayer to discuss what they all thought about the history making night for Manny Pacquiao.

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Who wins? Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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As of Saturday night, can anyone think of a single reason why Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao shouldn’t fight?

It kind of seems silly at first. Of course, there has to be some minor, highly insignificant, but ultimately negative thing about the two fighting one another.

But then really think about it. Is there?

Floyd Mayweather Sr. says there is. But he’s not telling anybody.

“Lil Floyd would whoop (him), but to tell you the truth, I don’t think he should fight him,” Mayweather Sr. said. “That would be my advice to him.”

If he’d have no problem beating him though, then why not take the fight?

“I have my own reasons,” he said. “I’ll let you think about it for a second.”

Whatever Mayweather Sr.’s reasons are, chances are they’d have a hard time stacking up against the reasons for why the two should meet in the ring in early 2010.

As Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, described it, it’s a fight the world wants to see. Moments after Pacquiao’s historic win over Miguel Cotto for his world title in a seventh weight class, fans from inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena started chanting, "We want Floyd."

Roach says that he’ll take whatever fight is the best deal for Pacquiao, but his pick is Mayweather.

“We’ll fight whoever we negotiate with the best. If Floyd wants a 65/35 split, he’s not going to get that,” Roach said. “We’ll take the best deal that Bob negotiates for, but personally, I want Mayweather.”

Back in September, following Mayweather’s unanimous decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez, his manager and close friend Leonard Ellerbe said that Pacquiao was the next obvious choice from a marketing standpoint.

That much is especially obvious, as the Mayweather and Pacquiao fights — although Saturday’s numbers aren't official, it’s certainly a reasonable assumption — marked the first time since 1999 that a single calendar year sold two pay-per-view fights that reached more than 1 million viewers each.

As Vice President of HBO Sports Operations Mark Taffet will enthusiastically attest, they are obviously the two most marketable fighters in the world.

“The two fighters’ persona and performance in the ring separates them from the pack,” Taffet said. “From a media aspect, they compliment each other. Pacquiao receives a tremendous following from the West and Southwest markets, whereas in Mayweather we see a lot of Midwest and East Coast activity.

“They are two megastars but to very different target audiences, which is what makes it almost a perfect storm from a marketing perspective.”

Even their styles are tailor-made for one another.

Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 KO) is the aggressor, who has shown a willingness to take a punch to give one, as well as a constant desire to finish fights even when he’s well ahead on a scorecard.

Mayweather (40-0, 25 KO) is the tactical defender, whose elusive ability is often referred to as poetry in motion; always the type of fighter that looks to score points and attend a post-fight press conference free of damage.

The trainer in Roach says he has the blueprint to defeat Mayweather — something the undefeated boxer is constantly asserting doesn’t exist.

“We’d break him down and beat him up,” Roach said. “Floyd can’t break an egg; he’s fragile. He hurts his hands all the time. He has speed, but if he lays on the ropes and rolls his shoulders, we’ll take everything he gives us.

“I have a great game plan for Mayweather, and I know how to beat the guy.”

Mayweather Sr., on the other hand, remains unimpressed by the Filipino and the wins he has over opponents that aren’t on the same level as his son.

“We ain’t worried about that fight. Tell me where you see a 5-foot-5 (expletive) hitting someone who’s just standing right in front of him,” said Mayweather Sr., referring to the Cotto fight. “That’s what we saw tonight.

“He hasn’t fought the greatest fighter yet. That might be his next task, but I don’t know.”

One person who doesn’t care about Mayweather Sr.’s withheld reasons for the two not to fight is HBO President of Sports Ross Greenburg, who was already in the media center arguing with Mayweather Sr. on the subject immediately following Saturday’s fight.

Before any of the fighters had arrived for questioning, Greenburg was heard saying to Mayweather Sr. that he knew the fight should happen and that it was time to make it happen.

“I don’t want to say it’s just a question of money,” Grennburg said. “When you have a situation where you’ve created two big events in the last three months, basically to set up a semifinals in the 147-pound weight class, and the American public demands to see the fight it has to happen.

“And the way it happens is to induce all sides by getting everyone to check their egos at the door, sit down at a table and hash out the terms. Each side has to look at the big picture, which is there is a boat-load of money and a fight too important for this sport not to happen.”

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who promoted Mayweather until the fighter bought out his contract in 2006 because of a falling out, confessed that even he was more than willing to put their differences aside to make the fight.

“I’m not going to put up with any kind of nonsense — no trash talk, I’m not going to negotiate a fight in newspapers,” Arum said. “If Floyd Mayweather wants to fight Manny Pacquiao, he knows who to call. Period.

“There will be none of this, ‘I hate him, he hates me,’ — that doesn’t matter. If he wants to fight, let him call me.”

According to Greenburg, that was news Mayweather didn’t need to hear.

Right before Pacquiao emerged from his final medical checks in his locker room, Greenburg walked to the microphone to deliver news.

“I just got off the phone with (Golden Boys Promotions CEO) Richard Schaeffer,” Greenburg said. “He told me point-blank that Bob Arum would be getting that call on Monday and plans to come in and meet with Bob next to week to make the Mayweather fight.

“I think we can all hope and pray that a fight of that magnitude and importance to the sport of boxing can truly be made, because it is time to capitalize on all the hard work that was done over the last three months. We can look forward to one of the biggest events in boxing history. Let’s see what happens, stay tuned.”

Monday can’t come soon enough.

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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