Roach pushing hard for Pac-Mayweather
So will Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., boxing's two best fighters and biggest stars, ever give fans around the world what they want by fighting each other?
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer and a newly elected International Boxing Hall of Famer, is like everyone else -- he sure hopes so.
"I want the fight bad," Roach said in an interview with ESPN.com on Thursday. "It's definitely a challenge, and we need to challenge Manny to get him motivated. He doesn't get motivated for ordinary guys, and Mayweather isn't an ordinary guy."
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Like many fight fans, Roach watched the rhetoric explode between the camps after Mayweather's 87-day jail sentence on a domestic violence plea was deferred from Jan. 6 to June 1 so he could fulfill an obligation to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for a May 5 fight against an undetermined opponent.
A few days later, Mayweather called out Pacquiao on Twitter. Since then, the camps have gone back and forth in the media, arguing over a variety of things, including the date -- Mayweather wants May 5, while Pacquiao and his promoter, Top Rank's Bob Arum, say they would accept the fight later in May or in June (impossible if Mayweather is behind bars).
However the saga plays out, Roach wants the fight now and said he has wanted it for the past two years, which is how long the fight -- likely boxing's richest ever, if it happens -- has lingered.
On Tuesday, Mayweather directly called out Pacquiao with a pair of tweets:
"Manny Pacquiao I'm calling you out let's fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see," read Mayweather's first tweet.
One minute later, Mayweather followed with this: "My Jail Sentence was pushed back because the date was locked in. Step up Punk."
Roach is glad Mayweather did it.
"It was typical," Roach said. "We've been chasing him for two years. All of a sudden he gets his get-out-of-jail-free card and wants to call the shots. Tweeting people and promoting fights through Twitter is very common now, trash-talking through Twitter. I found it kind of humorous. But just because you call someone out, there's still a lot of negotiating to do. At least he called us out, though. I'd like Manny to call him out too. Since Mayweather has been so bold, I hope Manny is just as bold back.
"This is good news that he called Manny out. Both guys want to fight each other, and we need to get this done, now or never."
Although Roach wants the fight -- May 5 or later in the month -- he isn't convinced it will happen until after Mayweather's jail sentence.
"My theory on what's going to happen is Mayweather will fight someone [May 5] and Pacquiao will fight Lamont Peterson or [Timothy] Bradley [in June], and in November they'll finally fight each other," Roach said. "I know Mayweather got 90 days, but he can be out a lot sooner for good behavior.
"I truly, truly, truly hope they fight as soon as possible. That's my dream. I love the fight."
While the discussion of Pacquiao-Mayweather swirled this week, Arum was in the Philippines talking to Pacquiao about various fights -- Mayweather plus those on Arum's initial list of four potential opponents, junior welterweight titleholders Peterson and Bradley, junior middleweight titlist Miguel Cotto (in a rematch) and Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao's great rival, for a fourth fight.
If Pacquiao doesn't fight Mayweather next, Roach's list, in order of preference, is Peterson, Bradley, Cotto and Marquez.
Roach said he hopes Peterson first gives Amir Khan, another of the trainer's fighters, a rematch of his junior welterweight title-winning decision against Khan in December.
"If we don't get Floyd, Peterson is my No. 1 pick," Roach said. "I think it's a great fight. The kid comes to fight, which is a good style for Manny. I think with Peterson's heart, it's a great fight. I'd rather have Amir fight him first, though.
"One thing I don't get to decide is who Manny fights. I get him ready for who they decide he will fight. I'm waiting for a call from Bob to see who it is. I hope it's Mayweather, like everyone in the world, because I'm a boxing fan. We need the fight to happen."
It was typical. We've been chasing him for two years. All of a sudden he gets his get-out-of-jail-free card and wants to call the shots.” -- Trainer Freddie Roach, on Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s calling out his fighter, Manny Pacquiao, via Twitter
Arum has changed his story multiple times in the past week about why Pacquiao and Mayweather can't fight May 5.
First, he voiced concern about the cut Pacquiao suffered against Marquez on Nov. 12, which needed 28 stitches. When Mayweather was going to jail last week, he said Pacquiao would be OK to fight May 5. When Mayweather's sentence was delayed, clearing the way for them to fight, Arum said Pacquiao couldn't fight until June. Arum also said May 5 was too soon because of the need for a 45,000-seat temporary stadium to be constructed on the Las Vegas Strip to host the fight, because the 17,000-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena was too small.
Roach said the cut issue was bogus.
"They do take time to heal, but I don't think that's a big issue, to be honest with you," Roach said, recalling how during his boxing career he suffered three cuts in a fight, each of which needed about eight stitches, and fought a month later.
Ultimately, Roach said, there have been too many excuses on both sides. He said the reason this fight has been hung up for so long comes down to the animosity between Arum and Mayweather's adviser, Al Haymon, as well as Golden Boy, the promoter Mayweather works with.
"It's ridiculous that two grown men can't do business together," Roach said. "It's like they both want to take their ball and go home. F--- it, it's business. They just need to drop the issues they have with each other and negotiate. This is not personal. This is business. Golden Boy is part of that equation too.
"People are starting to go the other way and not care about this fight because it's taking so damn long to make it. You've got to do it soon. I think it's at its peak. It's definitely time."
Dan Rafael is a boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.
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