Top Rank chief Bob Arum has been forced to rebuke more rumours claiming Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will fight in 2014.
American news website ABC-CBN claimed a wealthy Arab prince, backed by the President and Royal Family of the United Arab Emirates, was ready to open talks on staging a money-spinning fight in Dubai, with staggering purses for both fighters.
It remains a bout that millions of viewers want to see, but Arum has moved quickly to dampen expectations of a deal being made anytime soon.
Speaking to the same website that broke the original story, the 82-year-old said: “I don't know who this fellow is and he's never talked to me or anybody in the Pacquiao camp. But over the years, we have met more alleged princes from Dubai than there are princes from Dubai.”
Arum recalled previous encounters with alleged ‘princes’ from the Middle East: ““The last guy says he was a prince from Dubai. Turned out he was born from Brooklyn, New York.
“If they're legitimate, why wouldn't we be willing to talk with them and negotiate with them? But I’m very, very sceptical,” he said.
The pair were apparently close to striking a deal back in 2011, but differences over drug testing ensured it never came to fruition. They also held a direct phone conversation in an attempt to thrash out a deal, but nothing ever materialised as they disagreed again, this time over money.
Rumours surface on regular occasions that the two will finally face off in what would be boxing’s biggest ever event. Should their interest be serious and negotiations take place, it might represent the best hope of the fight ever occurring.
Prince Amir Shafipour, figurehead of any apparent deal, was behind the hugely successful Global Fighting Championships, a martial arts tournament held at the World Trade Centre in Dubai. In an interview with Gulf News, he said he is “deadly serious” about pulling off a sensational deal to bring the pair to the Gulf Arab State.
The most likely solution to solving the dispute is money, which this Arab group has in abundance.
UAE’s president, Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, is ranked number 34 in Forbes’ most powerful people with an estimated net worth of around $15billion. Al-Nahyan is already said to have given the green light for a deal to be thrashed out, with a vision of making Dubai a premier destination for tourism and entertainment.
Mayweather won his closest fight in years against Marcos Maidana but remains unbeaten in 46 fights, with an opponent for a September date yet to be announced.
His non-existent relationship with Arum, Pacquaio’s manager, has proved a huge stumbling block. He is also in partnership with Showtime TV, rendering a deal with Top Rank and HBO not possible due to boxing’s ‘cold war’.
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