Boxing's tendency to inflame hostility, name-calling and old grudges in contract negotiations is threatening the biggest fight in the sport.
Manny Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, told The Times on Wednesday that he's treating the Filipino's verbally-agreed-upon mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. on March 13 as if it's "dead," and added he's instructed his matchmaker to explore other possible fights for Pacquiao.
Arum is angered that Mayweather's camp wants Pacquiao to submit to a random blood-testing protocol supervised by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Arum also said that Pacquiao feels harassed to go beyond pre- and post-fight urine testing already mandated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. "Mayweather is not the commissioner of boxing," Arum said.
Arum once promoted Mayweather's fights, but the pair had a bitter split a few years ago and haven't worked together since.
The questions now are: Will Pacquiao agree to provide a blood sample inside the 30-day window before the fight, as requested by Mayweather? And are the parties at such loggerheads that they'd walk away from a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout that has a chance to be the richest in boxing history?
"I'm not saying the fight is off," Mayweather promoter Richard Schaefer said. "And unless I hear it is from Manny, then it's not."
Arum is merely "ranting and raving," Schaefer said, and he instead should talk to USADA chief Travis Tygart about how the blood-testing procedure would work. "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.
Mayweather said in a prepared statement Tuesday that he wants to ensure a level playing field for the bout.
His father, Floyd Sr., has speculated publicly that Pacquiao, who's won world titles in a record seven divisions, could be using performance-enhancing drugs.
USADA's Tygart said blood tests give his team the ability to search for a greater number of performance-enhancing substances, including a synthetic version of energy boosting EPO, and ultimately could check for human growth hormone.
Arum says he's perturbed that USADA has the right to request a blood sample on fight night, or at the weigh-in one day before the bout.
Instead, Arum has proposed the fighters' urine tests be conducted by those who preside over NFL and Major League Baseball testing, and said another alternate company which does blood tests could be summoned.
If they can't come to terms shortly, Arum said, a Pacquiao bout against someone like Paulie Malignaggi, Yuri Foreman or Juan Manuel Marquez could be sought.
Tygart told The Times that USADA's "testing will not interfere with the competition. It's unreasonable to believe that it would." As for Pacquiao's demand not to be tested within 30 days of the fight, that is "unacceptable to any effective anti-doping program," Tygart said.