The epic boxing matchup fans have been dreaming to see for so many years may become a reality this year, provided that Floyd Mayweather Jr. (47-0, 26 KOs) and Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) manage to finalize the terms.
According to JM Siasat of GMA News, Pacquiao believed that the unbeaten American boxer will be pressured to fight him thanks to overwhelming public demand. The pound-for-pound boxing champ spoke about the chances of a matchup in an interview with Sky Sports.
"I think it will happen, I believe that. If this doesn't happen now I don't think it will, so now is the time," Pacquiao said. "If you ask me what the percentage is, it's 80-20 [that it will happen]."
The Filipino boxing champ explained that there were "no more problems" that could prevent a fight with Mayweather from taking place.
"I think he's got pressure," Pacquiao said. "He's got no alibi; blood testing is no longer a problem, Bob Arum the promoter is no longer a problem, now there are no more problems."
Pacquiao added that "the fans are pressuring him," noting that he has agreed to "everything."
"The rules and regulations are not a problem," Pacquiao said.
Siasat reported that Pacquiao was even willing to bend to Mayweather's demands so they can start preparing for the fight.
"And if you want it higher (purse), I am happy with that," Pacquiao said in reference to the demands. "I will take 40 [percent] to 60. I'm OK with that for the sake of the fans. We are just waiting for you to sign the contract."
Dan Rafael of ESPN reported that both boxers met each other in person for the first time Tuesday night at an NBA game in Miami, where the Milwaukee Bucks faced off against the Miami Heat. According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, the men shook hands, chatted for a brief moment and exchanged phone numbers; Pacquiao was in south Florida after serving as a judge in this year's Miss Universe Pageant.
"He gave his number to me and said we will communicate with each other," Pacquiao said, later clarifying that it was in reference to the boxing matchup.
The initial greetings at halftime led to a private meeting that lasted more than an hour on Wednesday. Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz talked to ESPN about the private session, which happened at Pacquiao's hotel suite.
"It was very pleasant and very encouraging, and we give Floyd credit for coming over," Koncz said. "That's the first time they ever sat eye to eye. I've met Floyd many times, but he and Manny had never had a chance to meet. They talked at halftime, but this was a longer, more serious meeting. You could tell by their body language that this was very positive."
Koncz described the hour-long encounter as a "business meeting," but without tension.
"I think that's because they both have mutual respect for each other," Koncz said. "We'll determine what will happen over the next couple of days."
The biggest obstacle to making the fight possible, according to Koncz, was in hammering out pay-per-view rights. ESPN reported that Pacquiao had a contract with Time Warner/HBO, while Mayweather was signed up with CBS/Showtime.
"I don't want to step on HBO's or Showtime's toes," Koncz said, declining to comment further on the broadcasting issues.
Unlike typical boxing fights, Koncz thought it would be unnecessary to do a cross-country media tour, given that a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight creates its own hype.
"The money could go to the fighters instead," Koncz said. "People want this fight and have wanted it for so long. I would have liked to see it happen three or four or five years ago, but hopefully we can get it done now."
If the terms are worked out to the satisfaction of both parties, Koncz added that "it will be the biggest fight in history." ESPN reported that various negotiations since 2009 have fallen apart every time until now.