Pacquiao-Mayweather Superfight Stage Set

As reposted from Yahoo! (http://sports.yahoo.com/box/news?slug=dw-pacfloyd111509&prov=yhoo&type=lgns)

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LAS VEGAS – Just minutes after Manny Pacquiao had violently turned Miguel Cotto’s face into raw hamburger, the chant rose up from the stands of the MGM Grand Garden Arena:

“We want Floyd.”

Pacquiao had delivered a systematic demolition job of Cotto, winning the World Boxing Organization welterweight title via 12th round TKO with round after round of devastating shots against a bigger, stronger man.

It was the second electrifying boxing performance of the fall. The first was Floyd Mayweather Jr’s 12-round decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in September. That fight broke the rare 1 million pay-per-view bar, a number that will likely be exceeded by this fight too.

So now the stage is set for a super fight that could set box office records – Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. It’s the dream bout between the two best pound-for-pound champions in the sport, hopefully sometime in 2010.

“If Floyd Mayweather wants to fight Manny Pacquiao he knows who to call,” said Bob Arum, the CEO of Top Rank Boxing, the promotion which handles Pacquiao.

Within minutes, Ross Greenberg, the head of HBO Sports said he had spoken to Richard Shaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Mayweather.

“Richard told me point blank, Bob Arum will be getting that call Monday,” Greenberg said. “He plans on meeting next week with Bob to make the Mayweather fight.”

There will, no doubt, be posturing and preening and negotiating over the split. There are no small egos in this battle; no small checks, either.

“Benjamin Franklin is the most important personality [in the negotiation],” said Greenberg, whose company would handle the pay-per-view. “His face, multiplied by 15 million brings people to the table. Each guy needs to look at the big picture and the big picture is a boat load of cash and a fight too important for the sport.”

Greenberg said the 2007 fight between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya resulted in an $80 million purse.

“Is this one smaller?” Greenberg said, shaking his head. “Bigger.”

For boxing fans who care little about who gets more of the final millions and just want to see two legendary fighters in the prime of their careers, this will be a tantalizing wait.

“I think that is the fight the world wants to see,” Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, said.

Pacquiao’s performance here was a thing of beauty, the continuation of a run of brilliance. He chopped a big, powerful opponent down with a combination of speed, smarts and toughness to take shots of his own.

He didn’t shy away from leaning on the ropes and mixing it up with Cotto because he said he wanted to prove he can fight a physical fight and was tired of hearing about Cotto’s supposed strength.

“I yelled at him every time, why are you fighting his fight?” Roach said. “Manny says, ‘I can handle it.’ I said, ‘Well, prove it.’ And he did.”

Post-fight, Cotto was sent to a local trauma unit. Pacquiao performed an eight-song set with his band at an outdoor concert at Mandalay Bay.

The night left little doubt about his genius.

Pacquiao, 30, who has won titles in a record six or seven weight classes (depending on which version of history you believe), said his 5-foot-6 frame can’t handle a weight higher than 145, so he’s running out of challengers.

The only real one left is Mayweather, 32, the 5-foot-7 welterweight who presents his own combination of historic quickness, boxing smarts and defensive skills.

Likewise, Pac-man is about the only real threat to Mayweather, who has dominated boxing in putting together a 40-0 record. Nearly two years ago, Mayweather was so bored from the lack of challengers, he retired for a stretch.

In his absence, Pacquiao rose, defeating both De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton in a much more brutal manner than Mayweather did. Now it’s Pac-man (50-3-2) who many call the pound-for-pound king, a fictional title that Mayweather insists is still his.

Now they can prove it.

Both are known for their ability to throw and land punches from unusual angles, from avoiding contact and for making each punch count. It would be speed against speed, true boxer against true boxer, two all-time greats, lined up and ready.

Each fighter’s colorful entourage had already started the debates and trash talk.

Floyd Mayweather Sr. launched into a circular rant that essentially accused Pacquiao of being on HGH. “I’ve been in boxing since I was 15 years old, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said of Pacquiao’s new-found size and chin. Not that Senior said it would matter if Manny fought his son.

“When it’s time for us to fight, I’m going to show you all who the master is,” Mayweather Sr. said.

For good measure Mayweather Sr. claimed Roach was only a great trainer because he has a great fighter.

“Tell him to go [expletive] himself,” Roach said.

Roach said the game plan against Mayweather is obvious, catch him if you can.

“Mayweather is a very defensive fighter,” Roach said. “He doesn’t like to engage much. You have to pressure him. I think we have the hand speed to do that. We’d have to set traps for him and fight every minute of every round. I hear he [trains like] a machine too. I’d like to see who lasts longer.”

Roach also feels that with the chin Pacquiao showed against Cotto, that forcing the action against the softer hitting Mayweather won’t present a risk.

“Floyd can’t break a nail, he hurts his hands all the time,” Roach said. “He can’t knock Manny Pacquiao out.”

Pacquiao said he was taking a vacation and would fight whoever Arum set up for him. Mayweather Jr. did not attend the fight even though he lives in Las Vegas. His father said he did watch at home though and the loquacious boxer would have plenty to say in the future.

No one doubts that one.

And for once, it seems that boxing’s suicidal politics and factions won’t stand in the way of the fight everyone wants to see.

Pacquiao vs. Mayweather. See you in 2010.

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