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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pacquiao-Cotto megafight close to being done deal

Even before Miguel Cotto defended his welterweight title last weekend, he had given the green light for a megafight with Manny Pacquiao.

Late Wednesday, Bob Arum, chairman of Top Rank, which promotes both fighters, told USA TODAY both camps are close to reaching a formal agreement for a Nov. 14 showdown at MGM Grand in Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View.

The bout would be for Cotto's WBO belt, but it would take place two or three pounds below the 147-pound limit. Pacquiao, who won the junior welterweight championship in May with a knockout of Ricky Hatton, has only fought once above junior welterweight limit when he forced Oscar De La Hoya into retirement in December.

"I talked preliminarily with the Cotto people face-to-face at a meeting in Tampa when he was training for the (Joshua) Clottey fight," Arum said. "Now I feel confident I can get the rest of the business done on the telephone."

Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs), who initially said he wouldn't come down in weight to meet Pacquiao, eked out a split decision Saturday against Clottey, suffering a bad cut over his left eye from an accidental headbutt.

Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KOs) was in attendance and was impressed with the Puerto Rican's fan support as almost 18,000 packed in New York's Madison Square Garden.

"I laid out everything. Hopefully we'll have their answer and get it resolved with them by the end of the week," Arum said. "Both guys want to fight each other. When that happens, generally it can all come together."

Arum will meet Sunday with Pacquiao's representatives and could have a deal in place as early as next week. If necessary, Arum will travel to the Philippines to hash out the details. He's hesitant, however, to issue a firm deadline to get the deal done.

"There's a ton of money involved. If you push it under arbitrary deadlines it's going to go off track," he said. "Giving me a few weeks, which is no hurry, enables me to have enough time to pull it together so nobody feels I'm steamrolling them. There's an art in doing this."

Arum says the deal for Pacquiao's last two fights — his second-round KO of Hatton and eighth-round stoppage of De La Hoya — was finalized via telephone.

"The most pressing issue…, that's the money and who gets what," Arum said. "That's always the biggest issue. I've dealt with both of these camps over the years so many times that I feel that we'll come together and all be satisfied. Based on my conversations with both camps today I am extremely optimistic."

Source: usatoday.com

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