MACAO — Manny Pacquiao found his knockdown power Sunday, and that fits right in with his campaign to land a long-awaited showdown against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"It's time to see that happen, people can prepare for it early next year," Pacquiao said at the post-fight news conference that followed his unanimous-decision welterweight title victory in a six-knockdown destruction of Chris Algieri at the Venetian Macao's Cotai Arena.
Pacquiao's push for Mayweather — comically underlined in his recent Foot Locker ad — is not just wishful thinking, according to key figures on both sides of the negotiation.
Talks are scheduled to resume in earnest this week in a meeting between Pacquiao promoter/fight-maker Bob Arum and CBS/Showtime President/Chief Executive Leslie Moonves in the Southland.
Showtime has televised four Mayweather fights as part of a potential six-fight deal, awarding him purses in excess of $30 million for each even though the absence of a marquee opponent in three caused those bouts to average less than one million pay-per-view buys.
Arum estimated a Mayweather-Pacquiao bout would gross "well over $200 million."
"If boxing is to be considered a major sport, the fight has to happen," Arum told reporters. "It would seem to me to be counterproductive for someone like Les Moonves to be wasting his time if it was all [nonsense]."
Even though a years-long stalemate has frustrated fight fans, there's not a better bout to be made, especially after Pacquiao's famed power-punching was reborn Sunday.
Pacquiao (57-5-2) produced a career-best knockdown total against Algieri (20-1), who was sent to the canvas in the second round, twice in the sixth, twice in the ninth and again in the 10th, as Pacquiao snapped a 64-round knockdown slump.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao's trainer, said the fighter predicted he'd knock Algieri out in the 11th round.
Roach responded to Pacquiao, "OK, knock him out."
Said Pacquiao, a devout Christian: "In Jesus' name."
Roach, who doesn't practice religion, answered, "Is that what you want me to say?"
"OK," Roach said. "In Jesus' name, knock him out!"
Pacquiao chased his first knockout since 2009 like he did back then, following hurtful shots with flurries and power blows like the left to Algieri's jaw in the ninth, Pacquiao turning away and sneering.
"Great fighter, his experience really showed," Algieri said. "His adjustments were flawless."
Beaten foes speak the same of Mayweather, but a Pacquiao fight has been denied by money differences, personal grudges and drug testing. After Sunday's fight, Pacquiao, who previously balked at needles, submitted to his fifth drug test for this bout.
He also told The Times he's willing to bend to a specific purse-split percentage favoring Mayweather that sources close to Mayweather told The Times was required for the deal to get done.
A Showtime spokesman said last week that Mayweather and the network want the fight.
Said Arum: "All the nonsense has to cease, everyone should be working together to make that fight happen. There's no excuses anymore, none. Every place we go, they ask us when that fight is going to happen. Enough is enough, let's just make the fight happen, let's get it done and make it the next fight for each fighter, sometime in the first six months of next year."
Not doing so will "haunt" the boxers "forever," said Roach, who recently began reviewing Mayweather film again.
"I like challenges," Roach said. "It's not an easy fight by any means, but I love Manny in that fight, and look forward to getting Manny ready for that fight. I know Floyd's the best opponent we've ever faced."
Said Pacquiao, "It has to happen."