LOS ANGELES — Manny Pacquiao on Thursday selected his next opponent — that is, if he fails to reach a deal for a super-bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum said.
Arum declined to unveil the name of the non-Mayweather opponent, but said that fighter will be announced next week if negotiations with Mayweather aren’t productive.
Mayweather has called out Pacquiao to fight him May 5 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, going as far as personally calling the Filipino superstar to discuss a proposed 50-50 purse split.
Arum has countered that he wants time to construct a 40,000-seat outdoor venue for the Las Vegas bout, and that would require a fight date of May 26 or June 9.
“Our idea in doing this (Mayweather-Pacquaio) fight is that it’s the Super Bowl of boxing — it’s a memorable event, not just another fight,” Arum said.
One problem in the fight negotiations is that Mayweather is due to report by June 1 to the Clark County, Nev., jail to start a 90-day sentence for his conviction in a domestic violence case.
In addition, Arum for years has had an adversarial relationship with his ex-fighter Mayweather and with Mayweather’s top adviser, Al Haymon, and rival promoter Richard Schaefer, who has helped promote some Mayweather bouts.
In a recent visit with Pacquiao in the Philippines, Arum pitched alternate opponents such as Timothy Bradley, World Boxing Council junior-welterweight, or super-welterweight champion Miguel Cotto; or a fourth Pacquiao fight against Juan Manuel Marquez or a date with World Boxing Assn. junior-welterweight champion Lamont Peterson.
Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said Peterson is the best alternative to a Mayweather fight.
Arum said he’d like to meet with Mayweather to discuss the boxer’s willingness to move off his insistence on a May 5 fight date.
However, Mayweather advisor Leonard Ellerbe said Thursday there was “zero” chance of that fight date’s changing. “Legally, we can’t move off that day,” Ellerbe said. “Nobody’s going to disrespect the judicial system.”
Asked if Mayweather made that point to Pacquiao in their telephone call, Ellerbe said, “I’m sure they didn’t talk about playing a pickup basketball game.”
Arum toured a 40-acre plot in Las Vegas near the Strip on Wednesday with two businessmen who built outdoor venues for fights involving Sugar Ray Leonard and Larry Holmes, and acknowledged,
“It’s an undertaking, I admit.”
Yet, the promoter believes that “the powers that be” in Las Vegas could help convince Mayweather’s judge of the benefits of delaying the start of his jail sentence to mid-June so the mega-fight can happen.
“We’re still hoping to work that out with Mayweather,” Arum said.