LAS VEGAS -- The fight hasn't been made yet, and may not ever happen. But this city's casinos are already taking bets on who will win if Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. ever get into the ring.
Pacquiao, coming off his dominating win over Miguel Cotto, opened as an 8-5 favorite at sports books operated by Station Casinos, and it didn't take long for bettors to take a side. Several $20,000 bets were put down on Mayweather, forcing the line down to 7-5 in the early going, said Art Manteris, the casino operator's vice president of sports book operations.
"It's been pretty decisive in the early going," Manteris said. "I think I made the line a little too high but that's the nature of the business."
Manteris said he made Pacquiao the favorite based largely on the public perception of his big win over Cotto. Most of the early bets, he said, came from professional handicappers, who thought the line was too high.
Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum said he was ready to begin negotiations with Mayweather's promoter on a fight, while Mayweather issued a statement Monday saying he wanted to hear from Pacquiao himself that he really wants the fight.
"Tell Manny Pacquiao to be his own man and stop letting everyone, including his loudmouth trainer, talk for him," Mayweather said. "I am my own boss, speak for myself and tell it like it is. If Manny Pacquiao wants to fight me, all he has to do is step up to the plate and say it himself."
Pacquiao told The Associated Press last month he didn't think Mayweather wanted to fight him, and criticized the undefeated fighter for fighting too defensively and not trying to entertain fans.
His trainer, Freddie Roach, said after the Cotto fight that Pacquiao would be more than happy to fight Mayweather, but that Mayweather wasn't going to dictate the terms of the fight. Talks will likely be difficult, especially when it comes to what percentage of the revenues each fighter would receive.
The fight, though, has the possibility of becoming the richest ever and many in boxing assume that there is far too much money to be made for the fight not to happen.
"I think that's the fight the world wants to see," Roach said. "But if Floyd wants a 65-35 split (of the purse) he's not going to get it."
Assuming the fight can be made, it would likely take place next May. Las Vegas casinos would have the inside track on landing it, but there has been speculation that it could go somewhere like the new Dallas Cowboys stadium or even Yankee Stadium.
Any bets made on the fight will be refunded if it is not held by the end of 2010.