Manny Pacquiao, it would seem, isn't dead set on fighting Antonio Margarito on November 13 after all. Not if he can still get Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the ring on that date.
With the recent mingling of Mayweather and promoter Don King making news, a statement attributed to Manny Pacquiao has been released at philboxing.com, in which Pacquiao calls out Mayweather to finally make the fight that the world demands, and says he hopes that King is, as King says he is, the man to make the fight happen.
I hope Mayweather is serious enough in doing business with Don King and is not doing this only to save face. I hope Don King does the same in return, that he can make miracles happen. I say this to both these men: Let's Get It On. Fight like warriors and brave men. I am the champion, I have the belts and I should not be the one challenging you. I should not even be the one trying to make this fight happen. But Pacquiao vs Mayweather is what everyone wants, that's why I am calling out your names. My promoter Bob Arum will be waiting for your call and will be very glad to hear what you have to say. The sooner, the better...
Boxing fans who have been through this nonsense during the entirety of 2010 are unlikely to get their hopes up. When we thought we were getting the fight on March 13, we instead were treated to Pacquiao taking on Joshua Clottey on that date, with Mayweather facing Shane Mosley in an overdue dream match on May 1. Both fights did well on pay-per-view, but the expectation and even the demand of boxing fans -- hardcore, casual, and even the generally disinterested -- was that after those fights, should both men win, they would fight one another.
At moments it appeared it might actually happen, but in the end it devolved into more useless bickering, with the whole fiasco ending in a bizarre manner. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, representing Pacquiao, tried to say he understood that the fight wasn't happening at this time, but that he hoped it could be lined up for spring 2011. After that, Mayweather adviser Leonard Ellerbe denied any negotiations even taking place, which was boldly refuted by both Arum and HBO's Ross Greenburg. Top Rank announced a November 13 fight between Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito, the disgraced former welterweight titlist who isn't even licensed to fight in the United States at this time. Most fans groaned at yet another Top Rank in-house fight, many also feeling that Margarito didn't deserve the payday or attention.
Word went out then that Mayweather, unhappy with his representation either from Golden Boy, adviser Al Haymon, or even Ellerbe himself (if not all of the above), was talking with Don King in Florida. Mayweather was a guest of King's last night in St. Louis at the HBO Boxing After Dark card, sitting ringside with the 78-year-old promoter and denying HBO an interview.
Pacquiao added this in his statement:
This is the only way for Mayweather to save face. Make the fight happen in November and stop using Mr. Don King for publicity stunts. He claims he is the best. He says he is No. 1. There is only one way to prove his greatness and that is to face me. I should be ready by November.
Don King is no longer a promoter known for his busy scheduled promoting fights. In fact, he doesn't promote that many cards at all. He does still have an impressive stable of talented fighters, but they tend to go long periods of time between bouts. Devon Alexander and manager/trainer Kevin Cunningham complained loudly and publicly about this, and now they're fighting more frequently. Joseph Agbeko, for example, has not fought since last October, when he was involved in a Fight of the Year candidate. Others under King's banner are in similar situations.
But I have the belief that part of King's spotty promotional record these days has to do with the fact that he has no superstar fighters, and Mayweather is a superstar fighter. The two have talked turkey in the past, but Mayweather always wound up staying where he was. If he's truly unhappy or even blames his current representation, in part or in full, for not getting this fight done, he may see King as the only option. King has been around forever, and his dwindling status with the major American networks will not matter one iota if the fighter he's bringing to the table is Floyd Mayweather. He and Arum have had a long-running and sometimes very personal and bitter feud for the past four decades, but all signs indicate that they're willing to work together to make this enormous fight happen.
All that said, there is yet to be any indication that Mayweather is actually close to signing any sort of deal with Don King, or even just hiring he and his people as representation in negotiations with Top Rank and Pacquiao. But just when you thought this was totally dead, that Pacquiao-Margarito was set in stone and we'd have to wait another few months before all the dust and other crap started kicking into your face again, here we are. Right back to the call-outs, the talk, the speculation, and the ever-diminishing hope that we'll ever see this fight, let alone in November.