[PHOTO - Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., center, shouts at a photographer after leaving Clark County District Court in this December 21, 2011 file photo in Las Vegas. AP]

MANILA, JANUARY 12, 2012 (INQUIRER) Associated Press - Floyd Mayweather Jr. has taken his quest for a fight with Manny Pacquiao to Twitter.

The unbeaten Mayweather publicly challenged and taunted the Filipino superstar on Tuesday, daring Pacquiao to meet him May 5 in Las Vegas.

“Manny Pacquiao I’m calling you out let’s fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see,” Mayweather tweeted.

Moments later, Mayweather tweeted: “My Jail Sentence was pushed back because the date was locked in. Step up Punk.”

Mayweather is available for a fight in May at the MGM Grand Garden after a judge agreed last week to postpone his jail sentence in a domestic violence case until June. Mayweather was sentenced to 87 days in jail, but likely will serve less time.

Mayweather and Pacquiao are boxing’s top two stars, and they have circled each other warily for more than two years. Both have said they’re eager to fight, yet still haven’t reached a deal for what’s likely to be the most lucrative bout in boxing history.

While Pacquiao appeared to be more eager for the fight when the two first began verbally sparring in 2009, Mayweather has taken the lead in recent months, stepping up his campaign since Pacquiao’s narrow win over Juan Manuel Marquez last November.

Mayweather’s tweets appear to put the megafight’s future in Pacquiao’s hands — and a decision likely will be made soon.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum traveled to the Philippines this week to meet with Pacquiao, planning to choose the eight-division champion’s next opponent. Arum, who has repeatedly said Mayweather won’t actually agree to fight Pacquiao because he fears losing, has a list of candidates including Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Lamont Peterson and Timothy Bradley Jr. for Pacquiao’s next bout.

Arum also has suggested Pacquiao might not be ready to prepare for a fight in May because of a facial cut from his win over Marquez. Mayweather’s camp has dismissed that notion as subterfuge, saying cuts rarely require several months to heal.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, whose company has promoted Mayweather’s last five fights, has suggested Mayweather’s Cinco de Mayo fight could be against popular 154-pound Mexican champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez or lightweight champion Robert Guerrero, a Mexican-American from the Bay Area, if he can’t make a deal with Pacquiao.

But if Mayweather and Pacquiao intend to make their long-awaited fight, both sides know they must do it quickly, since a promotion of that size would require several months of preparation.

Mayweather controls his own Twitter feed, which is often filled with pictures of his fiancée and braggadocio about his gambling exploits. On Monday night, he tweeted a photo of a betting slip, claiming he won $400,000 on the BCS title game.

Floyd Mayweather to Manny Pacquiao: Step Up, Punk Agence France-Presse

LAS VEGAS—Unbeaten US star Floyd Mayweather threw down another provocative gauntlet to boxing rival Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday, daring the Filipino icon to “Step Up Punk” in a posting on his Twitter webpage.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. AP FILE PHOTO

Mayweather hopes to entice Pacquiao into accepting his challenge to meet May 5 in Las Vegas in a mega-fight showdown between the world’s top pound-for-pound fighters, one that boxing fans have wanted to see for years.

“Manny Pacquiao I’m calling you out let’s fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see,” Mayweather posted on Twitter.

The move comes as Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum is visiting Pacquiao in the Philippines to discuss who the Asian superstar should fight next and Mayweather awaits the June 1 start of a 90-day jail sentence on domestic violence charges.

Arum originally said that Mayweather was not among possible next foes for “Pac-Man”, listing Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez, Puerto Rican southpaw Miguel Cotto and Americans Tim Bradley and Lamont Peterson as candidates.

But that was assuming Mayweather was going to serve his sentence starting last week. Instead, a judge postponed Mayweather’s trip behind bars until after his already-booked May 5 fight.

“My Jail Sentence was pushed back because the date was locked in. Step up Punk,” Mayweather also tweeted on Tuesday.

Pacquiao, who has won 15 fights in a row over the past seven years, has told Filipino media that he wants the opportunity to fight Mayweather to be a top priority.

Mayweather, who squandered a chance to make a fight with Pacquiao earlier by seeking extraordinary blood testing measures, hopes to add pressure upon Arum and Pacquiao with his Twitter challenge.

But Arum has ripped Mayweather’s May 5 plan, saying he could secure $20 million more with the construction of a temporary venue in Las Vegas to stage such a long-awaited fight before more than twice as many spectators.

Critics see that and other moves as Arum wanting to avoid pitching Pacquiao, 54-3 with two drawn and 38 knockouts, against Mayweather, 42-0 with 26 knockouts.

Past near-deals for Mayweather-Pacquiao have fallen apart for years, sending Pacquiao and Mayweather against different rivals with similar results.

But this time, both fighters are coming off controversial victories.

Pacquiao, a 33-year-old southpaw, won a majority decision over Marquez last November, giving him two wins and a draw over the Mexican but none of them by such a margin that Marquez’s claims he was wronged could be dismissed.

Mayweather, who turns 35 next month, won the World Boxing Council welterweight title with a fourth-round knockout of compatriot Victor Ortiz, but he landed the decisive blow while Ortiz was distracted after the referee had separated the fighters then said they could resume.

Should Pacquiao not be next on Mayweather’s hit list, “Pretty Boy Floyd” has been mentioned as filling the May 5 date with either US southpaw Robert Guerrero, 29-1-1 with 18 knockouts, or Mexico’s Saul “Cinnamon” Alvarez, the WBC light-middleweight champion who is 39-0 with one drawn and 29 knockouts.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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