A done deal?

Dec 8 2009 - 7:07pm

It's on.

That's how promotional teams for Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are progressing, even if there has been no official announcement that the super-fight scheduled for March 13 has been formally inked by both men.

That official announcement is being crafted as we speak, a promotional source told the Los Angeles Times on Monday, even if Pacquiao hasn't signed his name on either a final contract or even a deal memo that his promoter Top Rank typically uses before working out smaller, but important, details.

"He hasn't signed a napkin," Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told the Times on Saturday, a point another source familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly about the talks told the Times on Monday. Pacquiao might not officially sign until early January, the source said.

Still, that source said the verbal commitment by Pacquiao was so strong to Arum while the promoter visited the boxer in the Philippines last week that promoters are operating as if "it's done."

A Los Angeles news conference is being planned for sometime during the first two weeks of January, two days after the boxers first appear jointly in New York.

Already, there's been verbal agreements on the guaranteed purse money, with each receiving in excess of $20 million, with pay-per-view "upside" making pay days greater than $40 million possible, those familiar with the negotiations say.

Additionally, at this hour, the fight will be promoted by Top Rank as "Mayweather-Pacquiao," with each fighter allowed to choose their own brand of eight-ounce gloves before battling for the World Boxing Organization welterweight title that Pacquiao won Nov. 14 with a 12th-round technical knockout of Miguel Cotto.

Without discussing any specifics of negotiations, Mayweather advisor Leonard Ellerbe gave The Times an indication of why the undefeated fighter's name will be listed first in the promotion.

"Floyd's the best fighter in the world, hands down," Ellerbe said.

The debate about that opinion is this bout's best selling point.

Pacquiao, ready to win a second consecutive fighter-of-the-year award, has retired Oscar De La Hoya, knocked out Ricky Hatton in two rounds and battered the naturally bigger Cotto in his last three fights.

So often, Mayweather (40-0) boasts punching speed, fitness and defensive wizardry that trumps his opponents. That will be greatly tested by Pacquiao, whose exhaustive workout routines are legendary and whose insistence to bring massive pressure have made him boxing's first-ever seven-division world champion.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have established the bout as pick-em in the sports books.

When Pacquiao met with Arum, a source said, the boxer's enthusiasm about the fight was hinged not only on the thumbs-up by his trainer Freddie Roach to accept it but Pacquiao's own comparisons between his punishment of De La Hoya versus Mayweather's more tentative split-decision triumph over the "Golden Boy" 19 months earlier.

"Manny's coming right at him," the promotional source said.

Pacquiao has told Top Rank to send him videos of fights in which Mayweather has been especially troubled, including his ninth-round TKO of Emanuel Augustus in 2000, his unanimous decision over DeMarcus Corley in 2004 and his unanimous decision over Zab Judah in 2006.

Meanwhile, Arum, Mayweather promoter Richard Schaefer and HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg are scheduled to visit Dallas Cowboys Stadium owner Jerry Jones on Thursday to inspect if that NFL stadium could host the fight.

The thinking by those trying to get the fight out of Las Vegas -- including possible interest by Atlanta's Georgia Dome -- is that it's "bigger than boxing," on a scale with Ali-Frazier III and other mega-fights, one Dallas fight promoter said.

No matter if the bout is staged in Dallas or Las Vegas, pay-per-view sales are what mostly interest the promoters, and the fact they're so close to finalizing a boxing Super Bowl has visions of riches dancing in their heads.

 

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