LAS VEGAS: If Manny Pacquiao works fast, so does his promoter—that is, in lining up the next fight for the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions announced at the post-fight press conference Sunday that he wants to match Pacquiao with former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., Miguel Cotto or lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez.
But Mayweather came out of a 17-month retirement also on Sunday to announce that he would be fighting Marquez on July 18 at the MGM Grand, the venue of Sunday’s showdown. (See related stories on front page and A8)
“Floyd Mayweather Jr., if you want a piece of my little Filipino, be my guest,” Arum said.
Pacquiao earlier told a small group of Filipino journalists that he wants to fight the man he replaced at the top of pound-for-pound totempole.
“I like to fight him. I can fight anybody,” said Pacquiao, who knocked out Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton of Britain in round two of the so-called fight of the year.
“Manny is unbelievable. He’s the best fighter in the world,” said Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach. “He is in his prime right now. Anyone in the world, he could beat them all.”
Former undisputed welterweight champion Mayweather put himself atop that list a few hours earlier by announcing the end of his retirement.
Mayweather abdicated the pound-to-pound throne that Pacquiao has claimed in 2007 by winning four fights in a row in as many weight classes, but the International Boxing Organization’s new junior welterweight champion likes his current size.
Announcement at high noon
Mayweather’s return was announced at a noontime press conference at the Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand.
“I’m back, and I’m here to stay as pound-for-pound king of the world,” Mayweather said during a press conference.
He added that he was willing to fight all the big names, including Pacquiao.
In a separate interview, Marquez said through an interpreter that he was also raring for a third fight with the Filipino icon anytime.
“I think Pacquiao is scared of me, because he knows I beat him,” said Marquez, who has won two consecutive knockout wins at lightweight since losing his junior lightweight title by split decision in March 2008.
In his first match with Pacquaio in 2004, Marquez was knocked down three times in the first round but rallied furiously to retain his super featherweight title in a controversial draw that many thought was won by the Filipino southpaw.
Oscar de la Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions, which is co-promoting Mayweather-Marquez with Mayweather’s promotional outfit, said the winner of the two biggest events of the year would logically fight each other in a super fight to decide the best.
Roach downplayed Mayweather’s desire to fight Pacquiao, saying the former pound-for-pound champion was only making a “lot of noises.”
“I don’t think Mayweather really wants to fight Manny,” Roach said. “He’s scared of my man, and I doubt if he would like to fight him after this [Pacquiao’s decisive win over Hatton].”
US veteran Shane Mosley and Puerto Rico’s Cotto, two fighters who have tried in vain to make a deal to fight Mayweather, were mentioned by Roach as possible next foes for Pacquiao.
Asked to predict how Pacquiao-Mayweather would end, Roach said he expected the fight to go the distance.
“We win on points,” Roach said. “He doesn’t like to engage. He’s going to run from us.”
Roach also made it clear they would not make the leap for a chance to fight Mayweather at his prime weight if he would not step down to face Pacquiao at 140.
“At the right weight? No problem. At 147? Forget it,” Roach said. “Why? Manny doesn’t need it. Manny’s best weight is 140. He should take some time off and make a good decision. He needs some time off.”
Pacquiao promoter Arum said no decision about who Pacquiao faces next would be made until after Cotto’s next fight in July, just one week ahead of Mayweather’s return to the ring.
One person who thinks Pacquiao-Mayweather will happen sooner rather than later is Mayweather’s estranged father and Hatton’s trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr. He doubted there would be much talk about his son fighting Pacquiao.
“They probably aren’t going to be talking about it a long time,” he said. “They are probably going to be doing it.”
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