[PHOTO AT LEFT - Filipino champ Manny Pacquiao with trainer Freddie Roach in file photo. MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, DECEMBER 5, 2009 (STAR) By Abac Cordero - Manny Pacquiao has agreed to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. on March 13, 2010.

The Filpino boxing icon, who turns 31 on Dec. 17, yesterday said in a television interview that he has come to a decision that a fight with the undefeated American should take place as planned, as pencilled by his promoter, Bob Arum.

“Payag na ako sa March 13 (I’m okay with March 13),” Pacquiao was quoted by GMA-7 sportscaster Chino Trinidad who was at the New World Hotel when Pacquiao and Arum held a very crucial meeting yesterday morning.

Pacquiao said he has asked Arum to iron out certain details in the fight contract before he signs it. According to Trinidad, the fight contract offered things which the reigning pound-for-pound champion couldn’t refuse.

“Hindi na tayo bumabata (We’re not getting any younger),” the boxer was also quoted as saying, meaning he would rather fight Mayweather now than wait longer, like until October or November next year, or after the May 2010 elections.

Pacquiao is seeking a congressional seat in his home province in Sarangani, and agreeing to face Mayweather in March means he should be back in training by the first week of January or 10 weeks before the day of the fight.

A fight with Mayweather could earn Pacquiao more than $30 million. It is the fight the world wants to see, and it’s one that should break all existing records in boxing, including the fight purse and pay-per-view sales.

“It will be the biggest fight ever – financially,” said Arum who looked very happy and satisfied with the meeting at the New World Hotel he wore a smile the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, the Top Rank president couldn’t share any other details, except that he’s flying back to the US tomorrow to sit down with the Mayweather people, work on the final details, and make the formal announcement next week.

If everything’s done, a major press conference will take place in New York on Jan. 11.

“You guys can interpret it the way you want but you see a smile on my face and that means I’m not disappointed,” Arum told eager scribes at the ABS-CBN headquarters.

Top Rank Promotions and ABS-CBN have gone into a contract regarding the airing of future fights over the giant TV station, and that includes those of Pinoy fighters under Top Rank.

But that won’t include future Pacquiao fights because the Pinoy icon still has a live contract with Solar Sports, one that would last until 2013, which airs his fights over GMA-7.

Arum, who flew in the other day, said he met with Pacquiao and his Canadian adviser, Mike Koncz, yesterday morning regarding the Mayweather fight

“I was very excited and it was a very good meeting. Michael was very constructive and Manny was very alert and really showed knowledge of what he was doing -- his problems with running for office and the March 13 date,” said Arum.

“I really believe this is such an important fight. And this should be the biggest fight ever -- financially.”

Pacquiao’s lawyer, Franklin Gacal, said a few days ago that the boxer has already decided to stay out of the ring until after the May elections, and that it would be very difficult for him to focus training for the fight while thinking about the elections.

The other date they’re looking at for the Mayweather fight, May 1, is now out of the window.

Arum said Pacquiao’s political opponent belonging to the rich and powerful Chiongbian family “can do everyone a great service” if he pulls out of the race.

“I think his opponent would do everyone a great service, including the great country of the Philippines by withdrawing from the race to take Manny’s mind off politics so he can concentrate on the fight. But that’s my opinion and I’m not Filipino so I can’t tell people what they should or shouldn’t do.

“Again that’s my opinion and it means nothing,” said Arum, who said Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, had already said that while they would need more time to train if it’s Mayweather, March 13 is actually “fine.”

“But that’s as far as I can go. We have an understanding (with the Mayweather people) not to throw up anything unless it’s final. I will sit with Richard Schaefer and iron out many details so that we can make an announcement in a short time. The future congressman has scrapped a May 1 date so we’re looking at March 13,” Arum added.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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