The much anticipated March 13 Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. mega pay-per-view boxing event suffered a potentially fatal blow Thursday as Pacquiao's promotional company Top Rank Inc. said it will name a new opponent for the recognized pound-for-pound champion within the next few days.
Top Rank Inc. spokesman Lee Samuels told Multichannel News that the fight, which many observers believe would break all PPV revenue records, is 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 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 sources close to the company.
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.
The Mayweather camp has insisted that Pacquiao - who has won championships in a record seven different weight classes - undergo Olympics-style, random drug tests leading up to the fight and after the bout, according to ESPN.com. Pacquiao has agreed to unlimited urine testing and at least three blood tests - one in early January around the time of the kickoff news conference, one 30 days before the fight and another in the dressing room after the fight, according the site. But his camp fears blood tests too close to the fight will weaken Pacquiao, so they want to set a testing cutoff date.
Last week Pacquiao filed a defamation suit against Mayweather, his father Floyd Mayweather Sr. and fight promotion company Golden Boy Productions alleging that they made false and defamatory statements that Pacquiao has taken performance-enhancing drugs.
The collapse of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight would land a major blow to the PPV boxing category. With few potentially major revenue-generating bouts on the horizon, the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout would have generated the lion's share of the category's revenue in 2010.
Executives for HBO, which would have distributed the event via PPV, could not be reached for comment at press time.