Drug testing dispute blocking Mayweather-Pacquiao match

May 03, 2010|By Lance Pugmire, Tribune Newspapers

LAS VEGAS — — Bob Arum lowered his voice from promoter-speak, stared into the reporter's eyes to invoke unprecedented sincerity about the fight the boxing world wants to see now even more than it did before Floyd Mayweather's money-throwing, bullet-sounding ring walk Saturday night.

"I want you to understand that we absolutely want this fight," said Arum, the veteran promoter of Manny Pacquiao, who now stands alongside — or perhaps behind — Mayweather as the world's top pound-for-pound boxer. "I just want the best possible economic deal for everyone involved."

Mayweather on Saturday night just enriched the bottom line for everyone by producing a sensational performance in winning a unanimous decision over world welterweight champion Shane Mosley at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Not only did Mayweather (41-0) showcase his mettle by surviving two massive right overhand punches by Mosley that each time buckled Mayweather's knees in the second round, but he also engaged Mosley in a middle-of-the-ring battle that refuted past criticism that he's most content to run and play defense. Mayweather swept the final 10 rounds on all three judges' scorecards, subjecting Mosley to an onslaught of hard rights and rapid jabs.

One prominent boxing executive who has heard all the Mayweather criticism over the years said the Saturday performance sent a resounding message to the crafty boxer's haters: "Just shut up."

"We've just witnessed the best boxer on the planet," said Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather's co-promoter, who has fought Mayweather, Pacquiao and Mosley. "As far as I'm concerned, Mayweather is the one to dictate this, the one who says the when, where and who [of fight negotiations]. Mayweather is the king of the world now."

The problem is that Mayweather wants Pacquiao to submit to the same Olympic-style drug testing that Mosley and Mayweather performed for their fight. Mosley said on fight week that he had given eight urine tests and four blood samples supervised by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Pacquiao earlier refused, saying he's uncomfortable giving blood close to a fight, and a mediation failed to strike a deal. So talks to stage Mayweather-Pacquiao in March crashed in failure.

Can they get a deal done now?

In the ring afterward, Mayweather said, "If [Pacquiao] wants to fight, he knows where to find me. If Manny takes the test, we can make the fight. If he doesn't, we don't have a fight."

De La Hoya added the drug testing "brings respect to the sport." Mayweather said he was proud to declare, "I'm clean; I don't have to take nothing."

Pacquiao's resistance would appear questionable now, especially with the Nevada State Athletic Commission moving to explore the work of the USADA in the Mayweather-Mosley fight and possibly install blood tests as part of the state commission's anti-doping program before a possible fall super fight.

Arum has maintained there's more money to be made by placing a Mayweather-Pacquiao bout at 100,000-plus-seat Cowboys Stadium in Texas, where blood testing is nonexistent, rather than at 15,000-seat MGM Grand in Las Vegas. But Mayweather was clearly calling the shots the first time around, and he's more empowered by the Mosley triumph. His co-promoters at Golden Boy unquestionably prefer the fight to be in Las Vegas.

Talks to make Mayweather-Pacquiao are expected to begin immediately, but key figures like HBO president Ross Greenburg say those discussions would be best served to remain private.

"Everything should be handled quietly," Greenburg said.

Mayweather said he anticipates a fight with Pacquiao and repeated, like Saturday, that: "I got the will to win under the lights. I want to give fans a pleasing fight, like [Saturday]. I want to fight Pacquiao because that's the fight fans want to see. But we need everyone to be on an even playing field."

Of course, on the heels of Saturday's dominance, only an opponent like Pacquiao would be worthy.

"I'll go home, re-evaluate a few things," Mayweather said. "We don't now who we'll be fighting: Pacquiao or who?"

Mosley, meanwhile, might be headed to retirement. The five-time world champion said after the loss that he'll "go back to the drawing board, take a vacation and relax."


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