Cable executives last week were hopeful the much-anticipated March 13 Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. mega pay-per-view boxing event could still be salvaged, despite suffering a potentially fatal blow in the negotiations process.
The matchup between arguably the two biggest draws in PPV boxing was on the verge of collapse at press time over a dispute between the two camps. Top Rank spokesman Lee Samuels told Multichannel News last Thursday that the fight, which many observers believe would break all PPV revenue records, was off after the two sides could not come to an agreement over random drug testing of the fighters leading up to and after the fight.
Samuels confirmed that a meeting Wednesday between the Pacquiao and Mayweather camps in front of a third-party mediator failed to settle the dispute over when and how often both fighters would be tested for illegal drugs.
Samuels also said Top Rank expects to announce an opponent for Pacquiao “within two or three days,” although he would not name any potential fighters.
A potential opponent could be junior middleweight titlist Yuri Foreman, according to people close to the company.
Executives for HBO, which has the rights to distribute the PPV event, could not be reached for comment at press time Friday.
In Demand CEO Bob Benya said he's hopeful the two sides could come to an agreement soon, for the good of the sport as well as for the pay-TV industry. The fight has the potential of breaking the 2.44 million PPV buy record set by the 2007 Pacquiao-Oscar De La Hoya fight.
“Boxing is like a tornado with all of its twists and turns, but at the end of the day the potential for this fight is so huge,” Benya said. “You would think that they would figure out a way to make this happen.”