Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Updated: December 15, 2:52 PM ET
Manny Pacquiao to fight in U.S. on May 7
By Dan Rafael
Manny Pacquiao is still deciding who he will fight next, but the date is set. The pound-for-pound king will return to the ring to defend his welterweight title May 7 at a venue to be determined in the United States, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told ESPN.com on Tuesday night from the Philippines.
Arum is in Pacquiao's native Philippines this week for meetings with him and to attend his 32nd birthday party on Friday, the day on which Arum said Pacquiao will announce his next opponent.
Arum traveled to Manila on Sunday with term sheets from the three potential opponents outlining acceptable deals for the pay-per-view fight: Shane Mosley (the clear favorite), lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez (against whom Pacquiao owns a controversial win and draw in superb fights) and welterweight titlist Andre Berto (the least known, but freshest of the three).
"We had a meeting [Monday] night after dinner in my suite and went over everything and he absorbed it all, and we will talk further on Friday when I get to [Pacquiao's hometown] General Santos City and see him again," Arum said. "Friday is his birthday and he's going to tell me Friday. We went over all the details and talked about it for about an hour."
Also present at the meeting, according to Arum, were Lovee Arum (his wife), Jinkee Pacquiao (Manny's wife) and Michael Koncz, Pacquiao's adviser. Although Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer, traveled with Arum to the Philippines for the party, Arum said he was not at the meeting.
Arum was originally planning Pacquiao's next fight for April 16. However, Arum said it was moved to May 7 to avoid conflicts with his duties as a congressman representing the Sarangani province.
"Manny preferred May 7 because his congressional schedule is such that he preferred an early May date so the congress is definitely not in session," Arum said.
Arum also said the May date worked better for pay-per-view.
"We're going on May 7 and we reserved that date with all of the pay-per-view industry," he said.
"The pay-per-view industry was very, very adamant about wanting Manny to go in May because they felt going in April there were too many pay-per-view events with WrestleMania and a UFC. While they may not be directly competitive for viewers, they are when it comes to the ad space on cable systems and the [satellite] dishes."
Arum said Las Vegas' MGM Grand was a likely venue, even though he said he had not spoken with casino officials yet. However, they have made no secret of their desire to have Pacquiao, a cash cow, fighting there again after a two-fight hiatus.
Arum said wherever the fight takes place it would have to be somewhere without a state income tax, meaning Nevada, Florida or Texas. Pacquiao's last two fights, his lopsided welterweight defense against Joshua Clottey in March and his junior middleweight title victory against Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13, took place at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"We only can go essentially in a non-state tax state," Arum said.
Arum said one of things he and Pacquiao discussed at their meeting was his commitment to spending more of his training camp in the U.S. than he did for the November fight. He trained for more than half his camp in the Philippines, where distractions caused by his congressional duties and his celebrity upset Roach.
He only spent two weeks at Roach's Wild Card gym in Hollywood, Calif., before spending the final week in Texas.
"Manny said he was going to work really hard and that he would train for four full weeks in the United States and maybe even five," Arum said. "He'll be in the U.S. longer this time, which is good for him and good for the promotion."
As for who Pacquiao will fight, Arum has made it clear he that he prefers Mosley -- who is in the midst of a split from Top Rank rival Golden Boy Promotions as he tries to land the fight -- but said that the final decision is up to Pacquiao. He said he has presented him with the economics of each deal but that it's "not my job to read tea leaves."
Arum did give a general overview of each potential opponent's term sheet.
Marquez is also with Golden Boy, but the company agreed to allow Arum to promote the fight without their significant involvement.
"But the problem with Marquez is the number he wants is so damn high and he hasn't moved off it, and that's preventing the Marquez fight," Arum said. "We know what he got when he fought [Floyd] Mayweather and we feel that asking for double what he got for the Mayweather fight after he lost to Mayweather is a little bit much. Maybe he doesn't feel that way."
Marquez was guaranteed $3.2 million to fight Mayweather. Arum said he also received an upside on the pay-per-view of $1 per home above 1 million buys. The fight did just north of a million buys "so his upside ended up being very small."
As for Berto, Arum said his offer was "the most reasonable. He came in below everybody and he would be an excellent, excellent opponent. But his promoter [Lou DiBella] got to get out and promote him so he has a persona and that if we put him in with Pacquiao people don't say, 'Who the hell is that?' "
Mosley is the most well-known of the three, but has shown significant signs that he is near the end.
"He's the guy everybody knows, the pay-per-view guys, the casinos, the foreign television. Sugar Shane resonates," Arum said. "The downside is he has two bad performances, but he's still Sugar Shane. With Shane, there's room to make an adjustment, a little tweak here or there, and I'm sure we could get it done."
Mosley, 39, is coming off poor performances in his last two fights. Mayweather wiped him out in lopsided decision in May and he fought to a desultory draw with Sergio Mora in September.
Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter.