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Mayweather-Pacquiao is OFF!!! January 7, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Boxing.
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Biggest fight ever (maybe) is no more

Slap me because I don’t believe it.

From the words of Manny Pacquiao’s promoter, Top Rank’s Bob Arum, the most lucrative fight in boxing history between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao on 13 March 2010 at the MGM in Las Vegas is off.  All because the two sides cannot agree on the drug testing procedures.

According to Arum, Pacquiao will still fight on March 13, against new Junior Middleweight titlist Yuri Foreman (who was on Pacquiao’s undercard against Cotto) in an attempt to win a world title in his eighth weight division.  Mayweather, on the other hand, will probably fight former Junior Welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi.

Is this really happening?  I was surprised when Mayweather and Pacquiao agreed to fight each other so quickly, even agreeing on a 50-50 split.  I was also surprised when the negotiations stalled over random drug testing and the parties had to go to arbitration.  But I never expected the fight to be called off completely.

Now, Arum is known to be full of crap, and this could be just another one of his ploys, but the fact is, the mediation process failed.  Apparently, the parties to the mediation had agreed on a specific deal, and all that was required was sign-off by the actual boxers.

(Click on ‘More…’ to read about what really happened)

What happened

All aspects of the fight but one had been agreed, including the purse split, the gloves (8 ounces) and the weight penalty ($10 million per pound).  The only thing outstanding was the drug testing procedures, which usually shouldn’t even be a topic of negotiation as the Nevada State Athletic Commission usually conducts the testing (though only urine).

But the Mayweather camp insisted on Olympic-style, random blood testing for both fighters, which would involve random blood tests at any time up to the day of the fight.  Pacquiao would only agree  to unlimited urine tests plus three blood tests – one scheduled test during the week of the kick-off press conference (about two months before the fight), one random test no later than 30 days before the fight, and one more scheduled test right after the fight in the dressing room.

This was not good enough for Mayweather and the two went to mediation, facilitated by retired judge Daniel Weinstein, who previously managed to settle the dispute between Golden Boy and Top Rank over Pacquiao’s conflicting contracts with both parties (Top Rank ended up retaining the rights to promote Pacquiao while Golden Boy received a percentage).

Reports from the mediation say that Pacquiao agreed to soften his stance on blood testing by agreeing to move the date of the final test closer from the initial 30 days to 24 days before the fight (based on his previous acceptance of a blood test 24 days out from his fight with Ricky Hatton for the purposes of retaining his boxing license in the State of Nevada).  However, Mayweather would not settle for anything less than random blood testing, despite the efforts of Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer and Mayweather advisor Al Haymon to convince him to accept the outcome of the mediation.

Effectively, this means the fight is dead, unless Mayweather does a back flip and accepts the mediation result, or Pacquiao agrees to random blood testing.  Meanwhile, Pacquiao will go through with the defamation suit that was filed in response to allegations by Mayweather and Golden Boy that Pacquiao’ uses performance enhancing drugs.

What has been said

Bob Arum had this to say: “Manny accepted what was on the table and Mayweather rejected it.  Haymon and Schaefer tried to convince Floyd all [Tuesday night] and [Wednesday] and he wouldn’t agree to it.  He didn’t want the fight.  He never wanted the fight.  I always knew the fight wouldn’t happen.”

Says Pacquiao advisor Michael Koncz: “We agreed to move the drug testing to 24 days under the supervision of the Nevada commission and Mayweather still wouldn’t budge.  So now what we’ve done is give up maybe $40 million to take a stand for Manny’s principles.  We will proceed with the lawsuit in an effort to clear his name and tarnished image.  Even if they make a public apology it’s not enough. Now they’ll have to prove to a judge that Manny is on drugs, which they won’t be able to do because he’s not. Manny is pissed off because he feels Floyd is a chicken and because he tarnished his reputation.  This is about principle.  We have nothing to hide.”

Mayweather’s camp has not yet commented.

Who is to blame?

There are two distinct camps when it comes to this debate.

Those who support Pacquiao point out that Pacquiao has never failed a drug test in his life and that Olympic-style random blood testing is unprecedented in professional boxing history.  Pacquiao is a superstitious guy who genuinely believes drawing blood close to a fight will weaken him and disrupt his training.  Further, Pacquiao’s rise from 106 pounds to 147 pounds took place over 15 years, which is actually very similar to Mayweather’s career trajectory.

On the other hand, Mayweather’s supporters simply have to say – if Pacquiao has nothing to hide, then what is the big deal of accepting random blood tests?  This is the biggest fight, maybe ever.  It has been scientifically proven that making blood does not affect you physically for more than a couple of hours at most.  Since when has requesting better protection against drug cheats a bad thing?  Suck it up.

As Paulie Malignaggi put it best:  “I agree with Floyd Mayweather’s decision. Pacquiao just left a $40m fight on the table because of a random drug test. Do you know how stupid that sounds?  You can flip it any way you want, and in as many languages as you want, but it still comes down to Pacquiao allowed a $40m fight to go down the tubes because he wouldn’t take a random drug test to prove he’s clean.  They can place the blame on whoever, but the fight hinged on this kind of test.  If Pacquiao is allowed to juice, he beats Floyd.  If Pacquiao is not allowed to juice, then Floyd beats the shit out of him and shows him what a real welterweight is like.”

Everyone take a deep breath and take a step back.  The truth is, everyone is equally to blame in this situation.  We’re talking about potentially the biggest fight in boxing history.  $40 million dollars.  Both sides claim they are turning down $40 million dollars based on ‘principle’.  That’s crap and everyone knows it.

So what if you feel a little weaker?  The other guy is being subjected to the exact same tests.  And what’s the deal with insisting unprecedented random blood tests against a guy who has never tested positive?  Aren’t the unlimited urine tests and three blood tests enough to eliminate all risks of doping?  Smells like neither side really wants this fight.

Mayweather will continue to be called a chicken who avoids the best fighters and to fight mismatches in order to protect his perfect record.  And as unfair as it may seem, Pacquiao’s legacy will forever have a drug question mark hanging over it.  Neither side comes out of this looking good.

Is there any hope?

Right now I would say there’s a 95% chance that the fight is indeed dead for the March 13 date.  But I wouldn’t say there’s no hope.  Bob Arum is a bull crap artist, and this is not the first time he has said the fight is ‘off’.  Chances are, he’s just waiting for Mayweather to cave.  But if Mayweather doesn’t fall for the bluff, then the fight will really be beyond rescuing.  For there to be any chance of this fight going ahead by the scheduled date, this issue needs to be sorted out soon.

But even if things don’t get sorted out now, it doesn’t necessarily mean the two will never ever meet in the ring.  With so much money at stake and with Mayweather’s penchant for spending, don’t be surprised if the parties start negotiating again later on in the year.

Update: Mayweather bites back!

Despite Arum saying that the fight is off, Mayweather has hit back with a vengeance in a statement released Thursday (US time).

In it, Mayweather says:  “Throughout this whole process I have remained patient but at this point I am thoroughly disgusted that Pacquiao and his representatives are trying to blame me for the fight not happening when clearly the blame is on them.  First and foremost, not only do I want to fight Manny Pacquiao, I want to whip his punk ass.”

Mayweather also shed some light on their position in the mediation: “Before the mediation, my team proposed a 14-day, no blood testing window leading up to the fight. But it was rejected.  I am still proposing the 14-day window but he is still unwilling to agree to it, even though this is obviously a fair compromise on my part as I wanted the testing to be up until the fight and he wanted a 30 day cutoff. The truth is he just doesn’t want to take the tests.  In my opinion it is Manny Pacquiao and his team who are denying the people a chance to see the biggest fight ever.  I know the people will see through their smoke screens and lies.  I am ready to fight and sign the contract.  Manny needs to stop making his excuses, step up and fight.”

The way I see it, both sides are throwing out smoke screens and lies.  Sources claim there are only two days left to reach an agreed position before the fight officially reaches the drop dead date.  Let’s hope they can come to their senses soon.

Further Update: Pacquiao set to fight Clottey

It appears a deal is being struck for Manny Pacquiao to face Joshua Clottey on March 13 insteadClottey’s side is ecstatic as it will offer him the biggest pay day of his career.  This is serious as details including money have already been discussedUnless something miraculous happens in the next day or so, the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight is officially dead.

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