Top Rank CEO Bob Arum confirmed a report by Sports Illustrated that Manny Pacquiao is virtually locked into a return date of June 9 at a new outdoor venue in Las Vegas against an opponent other than Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“If we can’t do a fight with Mayweather at the end of May, yes we will do a fight with somebody else on June 9,” Arum told RingTV.com. “That’s correct. We’re still optimistic, or somewhat optimistic, that we can do a fight with Mayweather at the end of May.”
Mayweather, who turns 35 next month, has targeted May 5 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for his next bout, and is scheduled to begin a 90-day jail sentence starting on June 1.
Kevin Iole of Yahoo!Sports reported that Mayweather said he is legally obligated to fight on May 5 and that he can not do so on another date.
But Arum and Pacquiao’s advisor, Michael Koncz, have all but dismissed that date for Mayweather-Pacquiao, citing their camp’s desire to have built a 40,000-seat, temporary outdoor venue on the Las Vegas strip in late May or early-June to maximize revenue.
Arum said that he does not believe that Mayweather’s sentence prevents him from fighting before his scheduled prison date.
“The idea that Mayweather is prevented by the courts from doing the fight at the end of May is totally bulls–t,” said Arum.
“I can not believe this bulls–t, and this excuse that he legally can’t fight at the end of May. That makes absolutely no sense. What difference does that make to the judge?”
Still, Mayweather blames Arum for blocking efforts to make the bout, whose negotiations have twice failed over the issue of drug testing.
But Arum told RingTV.com on Tuesday that Mayweather still is among the five choices for Pacquiao, including Miguel Cotto, Juan Manuel Marquez, WBO junior welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley and IBF/WBA junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson.
Koncz said the June 9 date is not etched in stone when it comes to attempting to make a bout with Mayweather.
“That’s a date that we have chosen, and it’s not unusual. That’s just a date that has been reserved or chosen,” said Koncz. “We haven’t confirmed that date, and we have not even confirmed an opponent.”
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank Inc.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com