Prize fighting often deals with talking more than punching.
Judging by the intense training WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao has gone through over the past several months in preparation for his upcoming fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, a high-profile announcement would not likely slow down the boxing star's routine.
As Pacquiao maintains his focus on defeating Marquez on Nov. 12, a megabout may be looming, as Floyd Mayweather Jr. appears to be looking for a major fight on May 5, 2012, in Las Vegas, with a reservation at the MGM Grand.
Mayweather and Pacquiao arguably represent the two best pound-for-pound boxers of their generation, yet both are in their 30s, and have not fought one another in the ring.
According to ESPN's Dan Rafael, Mayweather adviser Leonard Ellerbe said on Wednesday, We're looking to make the biggest fight possible and everyone knows what that fight is: the little fella.
That little fella is obviously intended to be Pacquiao, though the slight is comical considering Mayweather doesn't even have a two-inch height advantage.
When the Pacquiao-Marquez post-fight interview takes place later this month, Pacquiao will certainly be asked to comment on the Mayweather camp's May 5th date. At the moment, Pacquiao can only be concerned with Marquez, an opponent that gave him very competitive fights in 2004 and 2008.
The outcome of Pacquiao-Marquez may not stand in the way of a possible fight with Mayweather, though Pacquiao is favored to beat Marquez, and will likely give an inspired effort against the 38-year-old Mexican. No matter how Pacquiao performs against Marquez, a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao would draw a large audience, particularly from Pacquiao's fans in his native Philippines.
The negotiations between Mayweather and Pacquiao had broken down in the past due to drug testing, but with an enormous payday for both boxers, and with Mayweather having completed his 16-month layoff with a contentious fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz in September, the chances of the fight finally taking place are higher than they've probably ever been.
There was a great deal of speculation that Mayweather chose to fight Ortiz as a tuneup for Pacquiao, since both are southpaws. Mayweather continues to deal with personal issues, though some misdemeanor issues were recently cleared.
The 34-year-old defensive specialist still faces four felony and four misdemeanor charges stemming from an alleged domestic dispute with his former girlfriend, who is the mother of two of his children. He has not been an active boxer over the years, having fought only five times since 2007.
Ellerbe said he discussed the May 5th date with Mayweather and Al Harmon, another adviser, and also informed Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer of the decision.
We had a discussion, Floyd, me and Al, Ellerbe said. Floyd made it very clear to us what he wanted to do. He told us he is looking to make the biggest fight that is out there and to make it in May.
For those unfamiliar with Ellerbe, he was seen directly in the background of Mayweather during the boxer's post-fight interview with HBO's Larry Merchant that followed the victory over Ortiz. When Mayweather interrupted one of Merchant's questions and stated that Merchant would never give him a fair shake, Merchant asked, What are you talking about? and Ellerbe stepped in and said, You heard him.
Mayweather then stated that Merchant should be fired from HBO and that Merchant didn't know s*** about boxing. Merchant's reponse was, I wish I was 50 years young and I'd can kick your ass. While the rest of Mayweather's team kept quiet and tried to lead him away from Merchant, as Mayweather got in one more, You're not going to do s***! to Merchant, Ellerbe chimed in with the exact same response.
Ellerbe also has had his boxing license suspended for four months and received a $50,000 fine for his part in a melee during an April 2006 bout with Zab Judah, in which Judah had hit Mayweather with a low blow and a right hand to the back of Mayweather's head.
In other words, Ellerbe is perhaps more than just an adviser to Mayweather, but an avowed loyalist. He has been with Mayweather for several years, and when he makes an announcement for an upcoming fight, Mayweather probably told him directly to do so.
This decision to set a date at a major venue is evidence that Mayweather is serious about continuing his boxing career. Should a bout with Pacquiao not take place, the other candidates for the fight are believed to be Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, Andre Berto, and perhaps even current middleweight Sergio Martinez.
Michael Koncz, Pacquiao's business advisor, has stated that he believes the Mayweather camp is trying to pick a fight with Pacquiao's camp.
It's evident to me what Floyd Mayweather's camp is doing, said Koncz, according to The Ring. They're just making an announcement to steal the thunder from Manny Pacquiao's show that's coming up, and there's going to be another opponent. There's been no discussion. So as [Bob] Arum said, how can he choose a venue and also choose a date? That's all part of a fight negotiation, along with the fighters' purses, when you're going to try to make a fight between the fighters' camps.
Koncz went on to say that there has been no contact with Mayweather's camp and that Mayweather is overstepping the possible negotiations by selecting the date and venue.
Everyone knows that anything that Michael Koncz says has no relevance whatsoever, said Ellerbe, who also called Koncz an idiot. He needs to worry about picking up Manny Pacquiao's dry cleaning and running errands for Manny Pacquiao.
Though it will be a while before we know if Mayweather and Pacquiao will fight, the one thing that is perfectly clear is that the bad blood between the two camps continues to boil.