Talk about throwing coal in the boxing and the pay-per-view community's stocking.
The highly anticipated megafight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather on March 13 could be in jeopardy over a blood-testing dispute, according to published reports.
The welterweight title fight, tentatively set for Las Vegas' MGM Grand in what would be the biggest fight of 2010 and a very lucrative payday for cable operators and other pay-per-distributors, is off, according to Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum.
In an interview with the Grand Rapids Press, Arum said the bout was cancelled because his charge refused to agree to Olympic-style drug testing procedures that sides had been negotiating. Mayweather requested that the drug testing for the fight be in compliance with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which handles testing for Olympians, "to ensure fair play and sportsmanship by both fighters."
Olympic-style testing is more rigorous than the drug testing performed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. It would involve random blood and urine testing before and after the fight, while Nevada tests urine for banned substances, once just before the fight and once immediately following the bout.
"We're going in a different direction," Arum said in his interview with the Grand Rapids newspaper. "What I believe is that Floyd never really wanted the fight and this is just harassment of Pacquiao. We appeased Mayweather by agreeing to a urine analysis at any time, and blood testing before the press conference and after the fight. Mayweather pressed for blood testing even up to the weigh-in. He knew that Manny gets freaked out when his blood gets taken, and feels that it weakens him. This is just harassment and, to me, just signaled that he didn't want the fight."
Boxing and pay-per-view proponents clearly hope a resolution can be reached. The bout, featuring the undefeated Mayweather who was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world until his "retirement" passed that mantle was passed to Pacquiao, could prove to be the biggest payday in PPV history.