Mayweather promoter: 'I'm not saying the fight is off' [Updated]
There's no love lost between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Bob Arum, the promoter of Manny Pacquiao whom Mayweather split with a few years ago and went on to fight in the major events he says Arum deprived him of.
So when Arum told the Grand Rapids, Mich., Press today that the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was "off," it should be noted that past animosity can lead to short tempers.
[Updated at 1:50 p.m.: Arum's promotion company, Top Rank, today released a statement on the issue.]
[Updated at 11:30 a.m: Arum elaborated today, telling The Times he does believe the fight is off because "we have suggested everything possible to make this happen and it's falling on deaf ears." He added, "Mayweather is not the commissioner of boxing."]
Arum is bothered that Mayweather's camp has asked Pacquiao to agree to Olympic-style random drug testing overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Pacquiao, said Arum, has agreed to blood tests more than 30 days before the fight and right after the fight, but not so close to the actual first bell.
[Updated at 11:30 a.m.: Those independent tests would be used instead of the current pre- and post-fight urine tests required by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Arum said he won't agree to the testing protocol of USADA because he said that organization has the right to request multiple tests, extra blood and a blood sample on fight night. Arum agreed that USADA was not likely to request a sample just before fight night.
"They're not going to use that power, but I'd have to explain that to my Filipino fighter that, 'These American guys may be coming for some blood in your dressing room,' and they also can take more blood than just a tablespoon," Arum said. "What they say, and what they'll do is unknown."
"Manny has told me he doesn't want to be harassed," Arum said. "We're not jumping through hoops for Mayweather. I'm not going to take this."
Arum says the testing dispute can be "rectified" if Team Mayweather will allow testers who conduct drug tests in professional sports, including the NFL and Major League Baseball, to handle the testing.
"We're not using an amateur organization for amateur athletes," Arum said.
The key point of dispute, then, is how close to the fight Pacquiao will allow his blood to be drawn.]
Contacted by The Times on Tuesday, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach said he'd prefer for Pacquiao to give his final blood sample a week before the bout and no later than 72 hours before.
When told that, a national drug-testing expert said Roach's position was reasonable and predicted an agreement would be struck. Mayweather's advisor, Leonard Ellerbe, said he's been told by USADA that Pacquiao would not have to give a blood sample the day before the bout on weigh-in day.
Arum, however, said he doesn't believe Pacquiao will give blood in the 30-day window before the fight. "Freddie's not Manny," Arum said.
"This is not the first time he has said the fight is off," said Richard Schaefer, chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions, who is negotiating for Mayweather. "He tries to muscle in on things we ask. I'm not sure he wants the fight. He might know Pacquiao is not going to win. It seems like he'll do whatever he can to wiggle out, and it's starting to tick me off."
"I'm not saying the fight is off. And unless I hear it is from Manny, then it's not."
But one representative of Arum's promotional company, Top Rank, said he's been directed by Arum to "start looking at other" possible opponents for Pacquiao including Yuri Foreman, Paulie Malignaggi and Juan Manuel Marquez.
[Updated at 2:27 p.m: Arum said his staff was "working on another fight with Manny. As far as I'm concerned, this fight is dead." Asked about the millions of dollars that both sides would be throwing away by not agreeing to terms, Arum said, "I don't care. What's right is right."]
Schaefer said Arum is merely "ranting and raving," and should talk to USADA chief Travis Tygart about how the blood-testing procedure would work. Schaefer said it was his understanding that Pacquiao would have to give "less than a tablespoon of blood" less than 48 hours before the fight under USADA guidelines.
"Pacquiao may be having this nightmare of this being a huge needle sucking all this blood from him, and that's not what this is about," Schaefer said.
[Updated at 12:30 p.m.: Tygart told the Times today that the USADA's "testing will not interfere with the competition. It's unreasonable to believe that it would." Tygart noted that the NFL and MLB don't test blood and said that Pacquiao's current stance to be tested only 30 days and beyond from the fight was "unacceptable to any effective anti-doping program."]
Mayweather said in a prepared statement Tuesday that he wants assurance in this megafight -- which could potentially be the most lucrative in boxing history -- that there's a level playing field. Mayweather's father has publicly said that he suspects Pacquiao of using performance-enhancing drugs, but Mayweather and Ellerbe haven't gone that far.
"We have to hear from Manny," Schaefer said. "Freddie is sensible. Him and the people close to Manny just need to explain this, and I believe there has to be a way to get this done. To just say the fight is done is not the appropriate way to treat this."
"Arum should just enjoy his vacation in Mexico. Kick back. Light a stogie. Sip a tequila. Let this thing take its course, have it explained properly, and we can get this done."
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Bob Arum. Credit: Joe Cavaretta / Associated Press