Monday November 16th, 2009

Let's get right to the point, shall we? When are we going to see Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight Manny Pacquiao?

As dominating as Pacquiao was in his 12th-round technical-knockout victory over Miguel Cotto on Saturday, the sweat hadn't dried from the champion's face by the time he got his first question about Floyd Mayweather. It was predictable, really. From the moment the final bell rang in Mayweather's one-sided fight with Juan Manuel Marquez in September, fans and media alike were clamoring for a showdown between the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world today.

Will it happen? It says here absolutely. There was some rumblings in the post-fight press conference last Saturday that Mayweather is more inclined to take another tune-up fight before facing Pacquiao (Mayweather's manager, Leonard Ellerbe did not respond to phone calls and a text message from To me, that seems unlikely. Who would he fight? Luis Collazo? Delvin Rodriguez? Alfonso Gomez?

"Mayweather can do what he wants," said an industry source. "But the public outrage if he doesn't fight Pacquiao would be enormous."

Certainly, there are issues standing in the way. The boxing landscape is littered with acrimonious relationships but few are as bitter as Mayweather and Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum. Arum, if you recall, promoted Mayweather early in his career only to have the relationship severed shortly before Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya -- a fight that turned out to be the most lucrative in boxing history.

At the Pacquiao-Cotto press conference, though, Arum sang an aria about putting aside their differences and making a deal.

"No, I hate him and he hates me," said Arum. "If [Mayweather] wants to fight Manny Pacquiao, he can call me."

Arum will undoubtedly be getting a call, but it won't be from Mayweather. It will be from Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer. In a phone interview after the fight, Schaefer told that he would not negotiate the terms of the fight through the media but that he was confident a deal could be struck.

Said Schaefer, "Bob and I have made big deals in the past."

The sticking point in the negotiations is going to be the split. Mayweather has long stated his belief that he is the top draw in boxing -- his fight with De La Hoya broke the pay-per-view record (2.4 million buys) and his last fight with Marquez generated more than a million. As such, he believes he deserves the bigger share. Pacquiao feels the same way, though his camp is willing to settle for a 50-50 split.

Pacquiao, in fact, may have a better argument that he should be getting the larger piece of the pie. Take nothing away from Mayweather, but his defensive, counterpunching style is not as appealing to fans as Pacquiao's bull-rushing approach. And while Mayweather has knockout power, Pacquiao has electrifying power shots that keep fans on the edge of their seats. The numbers for Pacquiao-Cotto won't be released until later this week, but sources inside both HBO and Top Rank expect it to exceed one million buys and possibly reach as high as 1.5 million.

There will be a lot of posturing over the next few months. There will be publicized outbursts and the parties will likely storm away from the bargaining table more than once.

But it will get done, as early as May or as late as September, because, as several industry insiders told me, it has to get done. "It's like two great football players saying they don't want to play in the Super Bowl," says HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg. "Who would ever say that?"

GALLERY: Best images from Pacquiaio-Cotto

AP: Pacquiao punishes Cotto, earns 12th-round TKO win

GRAHAM: Five things we learned from Pacquiao's seventh title win

MANNIX: Blow-by-blow analysis of Pacquiao vs. Cotto

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