Photo by Alastair Grant and Rick Bowmer
LAS VEGAS -- Manny Pacquiao has always been willing to spill blood to win a fight. He's not nearly as eager to give blood to get a fight.
The fate of Pacquiao's planned March 13 megafight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. hangs in the balance. Both sides traded jabs Wednesday over Mayweather's insistence that the two submit to Olympic-style drug testing amid indications that both were open to a possible compromise.
With time running short, though, Pacquiao's promoter said he's not willing to negotiate much longer to make the fight.
"I think it's over (today) and we're going to another opponent if there is no agreement," promoter Bob Arum said. "It looks to me like they want a way out of the fight. Mayweather doesn't want to take a chance of losing."
A day after Mayweather's camp threatened to scuttle the fight unless the boxers were subject to random blood tests, Arum said his fighter would agree to just three blood tests. One would be done in January during the week the fight is formally announced, a second would be done no later than 30 days before the fight, and a final test would be done in the locker room afterward.
Arum also said the tests should be done by companies used by major sports leagues, like Major League Baseball and the NFL, something that so far is a major sticking point in the talks. Mayweather's camp wants the tests done by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which operates under much stricter rules that include random blood tests.
Arum accused Mayweather of trying to play mind games with Pacquiao, saying that the Filipino sensation has never failed urine tests for performance-enhancing substances.
"They want to put it in Manny's head that they can come in any time and take blood," Arum said. "Manny believes taking blood will weaken him. This is absolutely outrageous. Who does Floyd Mayweather think he is, the commissioner of boxing?"
Mayweather's promoter, Richard Schaefer, said he was willing to try and reach a consensus between the two sides. He cited comments by Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, that Pacquiao would agree to blood tests up to five days before the fight as possible middle ground.
"If we could agree to a 3-day cutoff I would try to sell that to my side," Schaefer said. "If Arum wants to walk away then he is going to be the one responsible for this fight falling apart."
Roach told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that he would not allow Pacquiao to be tested the day before the fight, but would agree to giving blood if there was a cutoff date.
"If they give me a 5-day window or something like that I have no problem with it," Roach said. "When they've drawn blood from Manny in the past he feels weaker for three or four days. It may be mental, but it's there."
The standoff over drug testing is the only issue still in the way of a fight that could be the richest ever. The two fighters earlier agreed to take equal purses, and earlier this week Mayweather's camp agreed to pay Pacquiao $10 million for each pound or fraction of a pound if the fighter does not make the 147-pound welterweight limit.
If the fight is held, it will be at the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas. But with the magnitude of the fight's promotion and the need for the fighters to set up training schedules, there isn't a lot of time left to reach an agreement.
The demand by Mayweather for the USADA to administer an Olympic-style testing program for the two fighters beginning with the contract signing goes far beyond any testing done by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Boxers have their urine tested before and after fights and occasionally in training, but there are no blood tests for things like human growth hormone that can't be detected in urine.
Schaefer, who with former boxer Oscar De La Hoya runs Golden Boy Promotions, said that if Mayweather was trying to get out of the fight he would have walked when Pacquiao's camp demanded the $10 million weight clause in the contract. He said he didn't think 8 to 12 urine tests and 3 to 5 blood tests before a fight was unreasonable.
"Manny Pacquiao probably thinks it's going to be some nurse with a big needle sucking out a gallon of blood and leaving him lying on the floor for a week," Schaefer said.
Nothing could be further from the truth, said USADA executive director Travis Tygart, who promised that any testing his agency did would not affect the outcome of the fight.
"What we do and have been doing in no way impacts any athlete's ability to compete," Tygart said.