LAS VEGAS -- Given the intensity of Juan Manuel Marquez’s knockout of Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night, promoter Bob Arum told The Times on Monday that he doesn’t believe it’s feasible to stage a fifth fight between the pair as early as Pacquiao’s previous target date of April 20.
Arum said he is also considering the worldwide attention given to Saturday’s stunning outcome, and the massive interest he expects before the next meeting.
“No. 5 is now the biggest fight in boxing, bigger than Pacquiao-Mayweather,” Arum said. “The idea we’d be ready to fight April 20 is ludicrous.”
He declined to give an exact date, noting that he doesn’t intend even to discuss future plans with both men until the new year.
The promoter said he expects to keep the bout in the U.S., with bidding expected to come from Las Vegas properties and perhaps Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas.
Marquez, after two bitterly contested lost decisions and a draw versus Pacquiao, likely became fighter of the year and created the fight of the year by rallying from a fifth-round knockdown and badly swollen nose to knock Pacquiao unconscious late in the sixth with a right-handed counterpunch Saturday before more than 16,000 fans at MGM Grand.
In Arum’s Top Rank offices in Las Vegas on Monday, employees were reviewing replays on a big-screen television that showed Pacquiao breathing heavily if not convulsing as he lay face down on the canvas after the knockout punch.
Reports that began to reach Arum during lunch Monday brought elation to him, company President Todd DuBoef and Marquez’s promoter in Mexico, Fernando Beltran.
Dish Network reported positive pay-per-view sales beyond the November 2011 Pacquiao-Marquez bout that generated 1.25 million buys, and an ESPN executive expressed happiness about the network’s increased involvement in boxing.
“This fight shows the health of the sport,” Arum said. “Great fight, shown all over it. The knockout happening right in front of the guy who was almost president of the United States,” Mitt Romney. “It puts the sport back in the mainstream.”
Arum said part of the fallout from the result will be to slot Oxnard’s Brandon Rios, Pacquiao’s likely next opponent if Marquez had lost, into a March rematch against Mike Alvarado. Rios and Alvarado staged a fight-of-the-year candidate in October at Home Depot Center in Carson.
Marquez is scheduled to depart Las Vegas on Monday afternoon for an airport outside of Mexico City, arriving around 9:30 p.m. local time, Beltran said.
Marquez is scheduled to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Thursday, and to present him with the gloves he used in defeating Pacquiao.
Arum assured Marquez will earn a greater percentage of the guaranteed purse than Saturday’s fight –- when he collected $6 million to Pacquiao’s $23 million -- “and the pie will be bigger too,” Arum said.
“We’ve known we can count on Marquez to produce numbers that will not disappoint,” he added.
Though Marquez declined to answer about his future plans on Saturday, Arum and Beltran made it clear he’s interested in another Pacquiao clash.
“He said he’d go to to the Philippines to fight Manny,” Beltran cracked.
“I feel so happy for this kid. The way it was going, after those tough losses, if he had lost again, I don’t think he would be a happy guy in his life after this. Now, after thinking he couldn’t knock out Pacquiao with a baseball bat, he says, ‘I can’t believe this, it doesn’t seem real, I’m thrilled.’
“In the fifth fight, he will try to win for sure, but whatever happens, happens. He has nothing to prove about being considered one of the greatest Mexican fighters ever.”
Arum said he hadn’t heard reports from the Philippines that Pacquiao’s wife, Jinkee, doesn’t want him to fight again after rushing to his aid in panic after the knockout.
“Jinkee can make any comment she wants,” Arum said. “Manny’s comment is he wants to fight.”