Mayweather gets reprieve but Pacquiao bout still offBy Francis T.J. Ochoa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be allowed to serve his prison sentence until after he fulfills his obligations to a May 5 fight date his camp has penciled in Las Vegas, a judge ruled Friday in the Nevada gambling haven.
But hopes of the megabout between the undefeated superstar and pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao were quashed as quickly as they were raised.
Top Rank chief Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, told US journalists that the logistics required to host a Pacquiao-Mayweather event calls for, at the earliest, a playdate late in May. Team Mayweather has already reserved a May 5 fight date.
Unfortunately, Arum’s plans for a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout will be tough to cram into a May 5 schedule.
“It can’t happen because we want to explore the idea of getting a [temporary] stadium arena up on the streets of Las Vegas that can seat 40,000 [for a Mayweather-Pacquiao bout],” Arum told the Los Angeles Times Friday. “The end of May is a possibility.”
The MGM Grand, perennial hosts to Mayweather and Pacquiao fights, seats only 18,000 and Arum feels it is not enough for a live audience of such a monumental showdown.
“Having the fight in a 40,000-seat arena rather than a 16,000-seat arena seems like a no-brainer,” said Arum.
Earlier, Las Vegas judge Melissa Saragosa gave Mayweather a reprieve from his three-month jail sentence for domestic battery after the fighter’s lawyers argued that he had contractual obligations to fulfill regarding an already announced fight on May 5 against a still unnamed opponent.
Aside from Pacquiao, the Mayweather camp has floated the names of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as a possible foe.
The ruling Friday in Las Vegas came on the same day Mayweather was originally scheduled to turn himself in and begin serving his term.
“We opposed the request and felt he should surrender as originally planned,” said Tess Driver, a spokesperson for the Clark County District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case.
Mayweather was sentenced to jail after pleading guilty last month to one charge of felony battery and no contest to two counts of harassment stemming from a 2010 attack on his ex-girlfriend Josie Harris and verbal threats against two of his children with Harris.
The judge’s decision to delay the jail term was also expected to benefit hotels and businesses that typically profit from a major prize fight, which can generate $10 million to $15 million in nongambling revenue, said Jeremy Handel, spokesperson for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Aside from a bigger venue, which would amplify that income, Arum is also concerned about Pacquiao’s health, saying the Sarangani representative needs to have a cut sustained in his brutal and controversial showdown against Juan Manuel Marquez examined.
“I also have to consider the cut Manny suffered [against Marquez],” Arum told The Examiner’s Michael Marley. “I have to check the status of Manny’s eye and I will do that.”
“I don’t know that [Pacquiao] is on schedule to start sparring until the beginning of April,” Arum said. “If it is early April, we’ll have to have the fight in late May.”
Arum, was, however, much more adamant that Pacquiao-Mayweather was still off when he was interviewed by ESPN’s boxing journalist Dan Rafael.
“Absolutely not,” Arum told Rafael when asked if Mayweather will be part of discussions with Pacquiao this week, although the boxer has hinted that he might raise the issue with his promoter.