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LAS VEGAS » Floyd Mayweather Jr. lives in what he calls his Big Boy house, a $9.5 million golf course mansion he likes to show off whenever HBO trots out its "24/7" show to promote his fights.

If you’ve ever spent $59.95 for one of those fights, you helped pay for it. Nothing wrong with that, though it’s not likely to get you an invitation to the pool parties out back that always seem to get the neighbors talking.

But now it’s time for Mayweather to leave the pool and head for the gym. Time to drop all the excuses and stop all the procrastinating.

Time to finally fight Manny Pacquiao.

The date is already set; the money already there. The issues that stopped them from fighting in March no longer seem to be such big issues.

Yet Mayweather remains a reluctant warrior at best. And nobody can seem to figure out why.

"I’m as baffled as anyone," promoter Bob Arum said.

Mayweather hasn’t offered much insight himself, telling the Associated Press on Sunday that he was enjoying being on vacation and enjoying hanging out with his family and friends.

Making another $40 million or so, he said, would have to wait.

"I’m not interested in rushing to do anything," Mayweather said.

Maybe he ought to be. Because it’s beginning to look to a lot of boxing fans like Mayweather just doesn’t want to fight Pacquiao.

He certainly didn’t want to fight in March, but at least then he had an excuse. Mayweather wanted Olympic-style blood testing and refused all efforts to compromise on the issue.

That excuse doesn’t work anymore. Arum, who is Pacquiao’s promoter, says his fighter will accept any blood testing Mayweather wants done.

Still, the new congressman from the Philippines can’t get a commitment. So now he’s looking for a new dance partner for Nov. 13.

And for that, the blame rests directly on Money Mayweather.

While he plays poolside, Pacquiao will be in the gym. While Mayweather contemplates his future, boxing fans may begin contemplating why they should keep caring about what he does.

Arum thinks Mayweather might be waiting to commit until he sees what happens to his uncle and longtime trainer, Roger Mayweather, who goes on trial next month on assault charges in Las Vegas. Pacquiao fans undoubtedly think Mayweather is scared of their man and even more scared of the possibility of losing for the first time in his career.

That’s doubtful, if only because he is a Mayweather. He started throwing punches before he learned to walk, and fear isn’t a part of the family vocabulary.

But no one really knows. And Mayweather isn’t saying.

His silence prompted Arum to hold a midnight conference call over the weekend to say Pacquiao is moving on and will either fight Miguel Cotto on Nov. 13 in a rematch or take on disgraced fighter Antonio Margarito. Neither of those fights has much appeal, but Arum controls both fighters. Pacquiao is such a phenomenon that he will do decent pay-per-view numbers and make his millions.

Arum was trying to step up the pressure on Mayweather, but his heart doesn’t seem into it. He sounded yesterday in a phone interview like he was resigned to moving on.

"What am I supposed to do?" Arum asked. "The kid is under no obligation to fight again this year, and I can’t make him fight."

No, he can’t. And it’s certainly Mayweather’s right to dictate his own terms and not follow Arum’s timetables.

But fighting big fights is what great fighters do. And there’s no bigger fight than Mayweather and Pacquiao.

There’s also no better way for Mayweather to back up his somewhat laughable claim that his career will go down as the greatest in boxing.

That career has taken off ever since Mayweather introduced his bad-guy persona to the world in the lead-up to his fight with Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. With De La Hoya’s ample help they sold 2.4 million pay-per-views, and Mayweather was established for the first time as a box office attraction.

But he went into retirement after stopping Ricky Hatton and has fought only twice since returning from his brief hiatus from the sport. Impressive as he was in beating Shane Mosley in May, he was facing an aging boxer who seemed to age even more with each passing round.

The bottom line is if Mayweather wants to claim to be the greatest boxer ever, he needs to fight Pacquiao. And he needs to do it now, when both fighters are in their prime.

There will be plenty of time to play in the pool later.

Now it’s time to step up and start acting like a Big Boy.

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for the Associated Press.


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