Role Reversal: Manny Passing on “Money”

Mayweather Not to Blame for Pacquiao Fight Falling Apart

After more than a month of negotiation troubles and bickering between the camps, the superfight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao finally appears to be dead – at least as far as March 13 goes.

According to his promoter Bob Arum, Pacquiao is lining up a fight with Paulie Malignaggi on that date after refusing to accept a random drug testing program proposed by the Mayweather camp.

To anyone who has followed boxing for the past five years, the news that Pacquiao, not Mayweather, is the one killing what figures to be the biggest money fight of all time is mind boggling.

Over the last several years, Mayweather was criticized by many in boxing for not taking on the top welterweights in the world because he didn’t see enough money in a fight with any of them. But while Floyd may have been to blame for not taking fights with Antonio Margarito in 2006, Shane Mosley in 2007 and Miguel Cotto in 2008, this is one you can’t blame him for.

Mayweather wanted this fight.

From day one, Floyd made that much clear. It was he who first challenged Pacquiao to challenge him – just hours after Pacquiao’s demolition of Cotto on November 15. It was Mayweather who agreed to fight on March 13 to allow Pacquiao to pursue his political ambitions in May. And it was Mayweather who agreed to a ridiculous $10 million weight penalty for every pound over 147 he weighed in at the day before the fight.

Through it all, Floyd had only one public request – that both fighters be randomly drug tested throughout training camp up to and including the day of the fight, all in the interest of fairness.

Mayweather’s father, Floyd Sr. had suggested Pacquiao was on steroids or some other illegal substance months ago. Most boxing insiders believe this is the reason that Floyd is asking for Olympic-style blood testing rather than the usual urine testing.

Pacquiao responded with a claim that he had a fear of needles and that he felt drawing blood before a fight weakened him. He used this excuse, despite the fact that HBO’s cameras filmed him giving blood in the days leading up to his fight with Ricky Hatton in May. Pacquiao annihilated Hatton in just two rounds, looking stronger than he ever has.

And not only did Pacquiao refuse to be tested to prove himself a clean fighter, but he went a step farther, suing Mayweather, Floyd Sr. and Richard Schaeffer of Golden Boy Promotions, who is representing Mayweather in the negotiations, for accusing him of using steroids.

Pacquiao’s response seemed like an act of desperation – an over-attempt to clear his name without actually clearing it by taking the blood test. His refusal to do what was necessary to make the fight would be shocking to anyone following boxing but not those following these particular negotiations.

Every time Arum and Pacquiao laid out a demand, Mayweather met it, forcing them to introduce another. Finally, all of their demands being met, Arum and Pacquiao stormed off from the fight altogether, Arum resorting to name-calling against Schaeffer and trying to make it appear the other camp was the one being difficult.

The decision to pursue other fights beyond Mayweather is one that has to have even the most enthusiastic Pacquiao fans scratching their heads and asking themselves why their hero would behave this way. The answer is simple.

Arum and Pacquiao never wanted this fight.

One need only examine the trail of negotiations whose details were willingly leaked out by both Schaeffer and Arum to see it.

Going into the negotiations, Arum expressed doubt that Mayweather would accept the purse split he proposed. When Mayweather accepted, Pacquiao’s team brought up the March 13 date and claimed Floyd didn’t want to fight then. When Mayweather accepted not only the date but the proposed weight of 147 pounds, Pacquiao’s team demanded he pay an excessive $10 million for each pound above it he weighed in.

When Mayweather accepted even those terms and then introduced the drug testing protocol, Pacquiao and his team grew offended and Pacquiao sued. Arum later counter-offered with a drug testing program that had more specific rules, such as a cut-off date, after which no more blood could be drawn. But Mayweather, seeing a loophole potentially inviting foul play, didn’t accept, and Pacquiao and his team promptly dropped the fight.

Who would have thought after all the years of talk about Mayweather avoiding quality opponents and Pacquiao fighting the best available that it would be Manny who avoided the biggest one of all?

At this point, Pacquiao not only comes off looking suspicious for not submitting to a random blood test, but he also must look vulnerable to the fans who glorify him. Why walk away from the biggest payday of your career simply because your opponent hurt your pride by indirectly challenging the legitimacy of your accomplishments?

This is boxing. Fighters aren’t always chummy with one another, especially with those they are neck-and-neck with in accolades.

And why does Team Pacquiao need specific limitations on the blood tests, when Pacquiao himself has been seen giving blood just a week from a fight?

Pacquiao might not be hiding anything. He might be a totally clean fighter, but why not prove it? And why walk away from what has been projected to be a $40 million payday just to avoid having to prove it?

Mayweather has always enjoyed playing the role of the bad guy in his promotions, but on this instance, he’s in the right. And it’s Pacquiao, the fighter whose historic run has captured the hearts of his country and the imagination of boxing pundits the world over, who now risks forever being associated with refusing to test for steroids when his name was sullied and passing on the biggest money fight in history.

Who would have thought?

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