NEW YORK (Reuters) - Manny Pacquiao's desire to take on Floyd Mayweather may not be enough to persuade the American to climb into the ring for a dream fight against the Filipino, promoter Bob Arum said on Thursday.
As Pacquiao returned to a hero's welcome in Manila on Friday following his impressive WBO welterweight title win over Miguel Cotto at the weekend, Arum cast doubt on a Mayweather showdown, saying the American might not want to blemish his perfect record.
"But you have to understand Mayweather's psyche," Arum told reporters at a lunch saluting Yuri Foreman, who became the first Israeli to win a world title when he claimed the WBA super welterweight crown on the Pacquiao undercard.
"Psychologically he may not be prepared to do this fight," Pacquaio promoter Arum added.
"Now this is me being an amateur psychologist, but Mayweather is so tied up with the fact that nobody has beaten him, that he has a zero on his record, I don't know if he would be willing to go into the ring with anybody that could jeopardize that zero.
The 32-year-old Mayweather, who has won titles at five different weight classes, has a 40-0 career record while Pacquiao, 30, improved to 50-3-2 when he stopped Cotto in the 12th round in Las Vegas.
"He is afraid, terrified of losing that zero," said Arum, possibly in an effort to goad Mayweather into making the match.
"That's why he's ducked (Shane) Mosely, (Antonio) Margarito and Cotto, and the question is will he duck Manny Pacquiao because he's so afraid of losing that zero."
Pacquiao, who won his seventh world title in an unprecedented seventh weight class, told a radio interviewer this week he wanted to fight Mayweather in what would be a showdown between the world's two best pound-for-pound boxers.
However, the Filipino threw the ball back in Mayweather's court with comments to local media at Manila airport.
"We are not pushing the fight. He should be the first to challenge me, after all I got a higher pay-per-view from my fight," the Inquirer newspaper quoted him as saying on its website (www.inquirer.net).
Mayweather's last fight against Mexico's Juan Manuel Marquez in September, a victory by a unanimous points decision, drew a million pay-per-view buys.
Final figures are yet to be released but Pacquiao's stoppage win over Cotto is widely tipped to have generated more.
After being greeted by a media scrum at the airport, Pacquiao rode a flat-bed truck adorned with flags around the streets of Manila, drawing thousands of cheering fans.
Representatives of HBO Boxing expressed confidence that Pacquiao and Mayweather would fight as welterweights in May, and Arum said he would try his best to arrange it.
"Boxing is on such a roll now, not to do this fight would slow down considerably the momentum that boxing has, and that would be wrong," Arum said.
Additional reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by John O'Brien