NEW YORK: Unbeaten fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr. said on Sunday (Monday in Manila) that neither he nor Manny Pacquiao have signed a deal for a May mega-fight, but he still hopes to get into the ring with the Filipino icon.
Mayweather, attending the NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden, said in a brief television interview during the contest that global reports about a virtually done deal for the long anticipated bout were premature.
The Sunday Telegraph in London, citing a source in the Pacquiao camp, reported “Pac-man” had signed a deal for a fight expected to be worth $250 million.
“That’s not true,” Mayweather said. “I haven’t signed yet and he hasn’t signed yet.
“It’s just been speculations and rumors,” Mayweather said. “But I’m hopeful we can make the fight happen.”
Buzz about a potential Pacquiao-Mayweather fight on May 2 in Las Vegas has been growing all month after the Asian star’s promoter Bob Arum said a deal could be looming.
Filipino southpaw Pacquiao is 57-5 with two drawn and 38 knockouts while Mayweather is 47-0 with 26 knockouts.
The two were long-time rivals as the “best pound-for-pound” boxers of their generation, but the dream fight has never materialized to the disappointment of the boxing world.
Various issues have scuttled previous attempts to make the fight, including a falling-out between Mayweather and Arum.
Drug testing protocol issues contributed to the breakdown of talks five years ago, but after the fighters met at an NBA game in Miami in late January talks seemed to be progressing.
One issue that must be resolved is the fighters’ contracts with rival telecasters.
Mayweather has a contract with Showtime while Pacquiao has a deal with HBO, so the rival telecasters must also decide how to divvy up the spoils.
The last time Showtime and HBO made such a deal was for a Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis matchup in 2002.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s long-time business manager Eric Pineda insisted that Pacman has already signed a contract, and it’s only Mayweather’s signature that is lacking for the mega fight to push through, “He [Mayweather] just wanted to be like that ganun lang talaga siya. Manny has already agreed to all his demands and just signed the contract recently. Maybe he likes to surprise us all and we’re hoping he will make an announcement the soonest,” Pineda told The Manila Times.
The Manila Times contacted Pacquiao’s international promoter Bob Arum and adviser Mike Koncz but both refused to comment on the matter.
AFP with report from Josef Ramos