Written By Real Kevin Jay on Saturday, January 31, 2015 | 11:49 AM
They've met at a basketball game, a hotel room, and now it appears that Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. may actually be close to meeting in a boxing ring soon.
While TMZ Sports reported on Friday night around 8 p.m. that Mayweather had signed off on the fight and agreed to face Pacquiao, citing multiple sources, promoter Bob Arum disputed the story.
“No, I’m aware of the report, but there are still some contractual issues to work out,” Arum said in a brief phone interview. “It’s close but not done yet.”
A spokesman for Showtime Sports boxing chief Stephen Espinoza also denied the accuracy of the report. And Espinoza himself tweeted out, “TMZ usually has good sources. This time, not so much.”
“Floyd Mayweather has agreed to the fight, but there are deal points still to work out but progress is being made,” Showtime spokesman Chris DeBlasio told the Daily News.
Still, Arum said an announcement could be made as soon as Super Bowl Sunday for a proposed megafight between the two welterweight superstars, tentatively set for May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a bout that would likely generate more than a quarter of a billion dollars.
“We have two days, it could happen (Sunday),” Arum said in a phone interview with The News on Friday afternoon. “That would be incredible, wouldn’t it?”
Even if the fight is not finalized by Sunday, discussions have evolved to the point where Arum is confident the bout will be completed soon. “We’re making progress,” Arum went on. “It’s going in the right direction. Everybody looks like they’re digging down to make this happen. We’re just trying to complete the paperwork. I say a couple of days because Floyd has dug in to fighting on May 2 and every day it takes to finalize the fight it takes away from the promotion of it.”
If the fight isn’t agreed upon by Saturday, Arum said that negotiations would continue since they’re in the home stretch.
Arum, who handles Pacquiao, said earlier this month that he and Pacquiao would move on and face someone else if an arrangement wasn’t reached with Mayweather by the end of the month. But with talks developing and the two boxers even meeting at a Miami Heat basketball game on Tuesday and then later in a hotel room that same night to continue their talks, Arum said the deadline would be moved back until a deal is reached.
“Now there’s no hard and fast deadline,” Arum said. “As long as things keep going the way they are (there’s no set deadline).”
Sources say the remaining hurdle is to work out an agreement between the two premium networks.
Mayweather has two more fights on a lucrative Showtime network deal, and Pacquiao fights on HBO, but sources say the final details are being hashed out.
“No one of the remaining points are too big to overcome,” Arum said, speaking in general terms on the negotiations, which are also being worked on by HBO CEO Richard Plepler and CBS head man Less Moonves, which operates Showtime.
Arum has changed his tone as it relates to the fight in recent days. He’s now adopted a sunnier attitude, saying he believes that Mayweather is actually interested in facing Pacquiao. Before, he had his doubts.
While Arum wasn’t in the Miami hotel encounter with Mayweather and Pacquiao, Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz was there and relayed back to Arum that based on what Mayweather was saying, he believes he’s sincere about making the fight.
Arum has said that Pacquiao has signed off on the deal to fight Mayweather, from pocketing a smaller share of a 60-40 split to Olympic style drug testing to even the type of gloves he will wear.
Arum said that Pacquiao will attend a National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 5 in Washington D.C. where President Obama is expected to appear with the Dalai Lama.
Based on the number of times Mayweather and Pacquiao have run into each other this week, it’s possible Mayweather might show up, too.