Late last month in Macau, Manny Pacquiao was playfully twiddling with his smartphone while waiting for the call to fly to Shanghai when asked about the elusive Floyd Mayweather fight.
Pacquiao, seated comfortably in the luxurious couch of the five-bedroom suite at The Venetian, looked his interviewer in the eye, widened his stare and casually gave an answer.
“He doesn’t have a choice but to accept (a fight with me),” said Pacquiao.
Mayweather is fresh from racking up the fourth fight of a lucrative $250-million deal with Showtime following a rematch win over Marcos Maidana and it seems he is indeed feeling the pressure as Pacquiao surmised a few weeks ago.
Moments after repulsing Maidana, Mayweather surprisingly made mention of Pacquiao as a possible foe, something the flashy and unbeaten US fighter had refused to do in the past.
Efforts to bring the two together have failed several times in the past owing to a string of differences ranging from drug-testing and revenue-sharing and even the touchy issue of which side will be calling the shots during the promotion.
Pacquiao is aligned with HBO, while Mayweather is with Showtime and neither side is willing to give an inch.
But that is apparently being worked on as Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum told the Bulletin last Aug. 25 that executives of the two networks have started to exchange notes.
Even Showtime vice-president Stephen Espinosa, in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, admitted that Pacquiao is “absolutely” his first choice as Mayweather’s next opponent.
But Pacquiao has to hurdle Chris Algieri on Nov. 23 in Macau before salivating over a rich Mayweather showdown.
And assuming Pacquiao gets past the little-known New York native – which is the very likely scenario – expect HBO and Showtime to buckle down to work and get something going for an event in the first week of May 2015.
Getting a deal in place involving the bitter network rivals can be done as HBO and Showtime had partnered before when they staged the epic Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson brawl in June 2002 in Memphis.
HBO had Lewis and Showtime had Tyson at that time but the matchup was too tempting to pass up that it finally became a reality.
Interestingly, there is a link between 2002 and the one being cooked up for next year.
Pacquiao, who had made his US debut the year before, fought and beat Jorge Eliecer Julio of Colombia in the main supporting fight.