Philippine Daily Inquirer
LAS VEGAS—Manny Pacquiao is back to sow fear in the ring—and one of his chief targets is Floyd Mayweather, the undefeated American.
“My line is open 24 hours, seven days a week,” the Filipino world welterweight champion said after demolishing the previously unbeaten Timothy Bradley. “All they (Mayweather camp) need to do is call.”
Pacquiao is expected to return to Manila on Friday. He will leave for General Santos City the next day to be with his wife Jinkee, the Sarangani vice governor, who is expected to give birth anytime this month.
Mayweather, 37, continues to shun calls for a showdown with Pacquiao.
The American will put his perfect 45-0 record on the line against Argentina’s Marcos Maidana on May 3 in a welterweight world title clash.
In beating Bradley and recapturing the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight crown, Pacquiao proved he still has a lot of gas left in his tank and that he should be good for two more years of fighting at the elite level.
Meaning at least three more fights.
“This [win] means that I still got what it takes,” Pacquiao told Filipino sportswriters on Sunday as the customized bus bearing his image headed for Los Angeles. “I feel as if I am starting all over again.”
Pacquiao’s energy and precision in his fight with Bradley backed the 35-year-old’s claim that his boxing journey is far from over—making talk of a mouth-watering Pacquiao-Mayweather match inevitable.
“If he wants to fight, the fight will be on,” Pacquiao said, although history has shown it’s not that easy.
In late 2009 and early 2010, Pacquiao and Mayweather were considered the world’s top pound-for-pound fighters and record profits were expected from a showdown.
But a disagreement over prefight blood testing scuttled talks already complicated by the need to satisfy rival pay-per-view outlets HBO and Showtime.
Other negotiations broke down over the division of the purse, and the intervening years have brought a further chill to relations between Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
“It’s really hard to talk about that,” Pacquiao said. “How many years have we talked about it and it hasn’t happened?”
Trainer Freddie Roach seems to flip-flop as to whether the bout will ever take place, saying he thought it would if only because the pool of potential opponents for both Pacquiao and Mayweather is so small.
Roach has said that if the fight does happen it could be as a career finale for both men.
“On our side, I think Bob [Arum] wants that fight to be our last fight,” Roach said.
Prominent advertising for Mayweather-Maidana at MGM Grand during the week of the Pacquiao-Bradley fight had incensed Arum, who went so far as to threaten never to have Pacquiao fight there again.
He derided the Mayweather-Maidana matchup as “nonsense,” no doubt further provoked by Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions’ decision to make Maidana available to the media at MGM Grand just hours before Pacquiao-Bradley on Saturday.
Leonard Ellerbe, chief executive of Mayweather Promotions, took the opportunity to take a poke at Arum’s card, saying the projected gate receipts of about $8 million—later confirmed by Arum—would be dwarfed by Mayweather-Maidana, which had already sold $14 million worth of tickets.
“People come to see Floyd Mayweather fight in big events,” Ellerbe said. “That’s why we do the kind of numbers that we do.”
Despite the war of words, Arum insisted on Saturday night that he was ready to try again.
“If they want to operate in good faith and want to get something done, everything is possible,” Arum said. “Any excuse for it not happening is just posturing.”
With his victory over Bradley, avenging a lamentable split decision loss in 2012, Pacquiao seems ready to face anybody in the 147-pound division.
The prime candidate for now would be the winner of the Juan Manuel Marquez-Mike Alvarado showdown on May 17.
Pacquiao, of course, would prefer to face Marquez, who flattened him in the sixth round in 2012 but dropped a decision to Bradley in his next fight.
Other probable opponents are rugged Russian Ruslan Provodnikov, the WBO light welterweight champion, and Briton Amir Khan.
Provodnikov has expressed reluctance to face Pacquiao owing to the friendship they forged when he served as the Fighter of the Decade’s main sparring partner for the Bradley bout.
Pacquiao’s victory over Bradley raised his record to 56-5-2, with 38 knockouts, and assured him of $20,000,000.
Owing to his limited fan base, Bradley only earned $6 million for Saturday’s fight shown over HBO pay-per-view.
Pacquiao stepped into the bus for Los Angeles with a bandage to cover a deep cut over his eye that required 32 stitches to close in a double-layer procedure done by a plastic surgeon.
He said he would fight anybody put up against him by Arum.
Arum, 82, also wants a Mayweather fight for Pacquiao but the flamboyant American had never touched base with him.
While Pacquiao prefers to stage his 24th US fight in Las Vegas, Arum isn’t too keen after having a falling out with MGM officials.
Despite losing to Pacquiao, Bradley’s stock is expected to rise because he fought well, even causing some concern when he landed a solid right on Pacquiao’s chin in the fourth round.
Though the sneaky punch rocked Pacquiao, the Sarangani congressman said it emboldened him as he found out that he could take the best Bradley had to offer.
Pacquiao explained that Bradley’s shot landed on his left chin, unlike the haymaker Marquez landed on him that hit the center of his chin.
“If a really strong punch strikes here (center), then it’s all over for any fighter,” Pacquiao explained.
Against a light bomber like Bradley, however, Pacquiao willingly took the bait to unload combinations that ultimately hurt and slowed Bradley down.
With his killer instinct back, Pacquiao will be a monster in the ring once again—just like those days when he destroyed topnotch opponents like Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales.—With a report from AFP