It's really real now. Arguably boxing's biggest star, Floyd Mayweather Jr., took to Twitter today to openly challenge fellow boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao. What's novel about this? Both have indicated a willingness in various spots in their career to face the other, but never has one been so direct. This is Mayweather ratcheting up the stakes and firmly forcing Pacquiao to either accept the challenge or face a future where he and promoter Bob Arum are universally considered to be ducking.
Mayweather's Tweets are as follows:
Manny Pacquiao I'm calling you out let's fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see.— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) January 10, 2012
My Jail Sentence was pushed back because the date was locked in. Step up Punk.— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) January 10, 2012
You'll recall Mayweather recently had the time he had to serve in jail pushed back to June so he could fight on May 5th and bring much-needed revenue to the local Las Vegas economy. Here's the rub: rival promoter Bob Arum said Mayweather being in jail on May 5th eliminated the possibility of a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, but that Pacquiao would fight in either May or June. As soon as Arum was asked about Mayweather's time to serve being pushed back to June 1, Arum suddenly said Pacquiao wouldn't be able to compete until June because of - get this - a slow-healing cut.
Pacquiao has since said he'd be willing to fight Mayweather and Arum indicates he'd obey what Pacquiao wants. Now, however, Mayweather has issued an open challenge. He's unequivocally stating interest on his end and, in terms of public perception, had his jail time moved back just to make the fight. He's calling Pacquiao's bluff: take the fight or risk being cast as a talented boxer who refused to face the best of his generation.
Of course, part of the reason for this could be the backlash to news that Floyd Mayweather vs. Robert Guerrero is in final negotiations. Fans hated hearing that Floyd (fighting at 147 pounds as a welterweight) would dare fight a guy who has never fought over lightweight (other than one horrible fight at 138) and never held a legitimate title above 130 pounds. To top it off, he has been off over a year after having surgery on his shoulder.
This could be a way to make it seem like "well, you guys. I tried my best, now I pretty much have to fight Guerrero" even though there are many better options out there. Which isn't to run down the very talented Guerrero, but rather to point out that he hasn't proven that he deserves the shot. Then again, maybe the public pressure will finally get to everyone involved.
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