The megafight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao could be in jeopardy after Pacquiao reportedly refused to have his blood drawn 30 days before their proposed March 13 welterweight title bout.
Mayweather wants Pacquiao to submit to Olympic-style drug testing as outlined by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. Mayweather’s father, Floyd Sr., and others in the Mayweather camp have insinuated that Pacquiao’s size and strength are not from conventional and natural means.
“This is a legitimate potential dealbreaker,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which is representing Mayweather in negotiations with Top Rank, Pacquiao’s promoter. “I hope it’s not Manny saying this, that it’s someone in his camp.
“Manny can clear it up if he said it’s a miscommunication and that he agrees to the testing. He does that, then we have a fight.”
Pacquiao never has flunked a drug test in his 13-year professional career. Still, Mayweather wants Pacquiao to have his blood drawn 30 days before the fight, which would be at the MGM Grand Garden.
“I understand Pacquiao not liking having his blood taken, because frankly I don’t know anyone who really does,” Mayweather said in a statement. “But in a fight of this magnitude, I think it is our responsibility to subject ourselves to sportsmanship at the highest level.
“I have already agreed to the testing, and it is a shame that he is not willing to do the same. It leaves me with great doubt as to the level of fairness I would be facing in the ring that night.”
Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, said: “We’ve insisted on this from the beginning. We just want to make sure there is a level playing field.
“There’s no compromise on this issue.”
Schaefer said under typical Olympic testing, an athlete would be subject to multiple random tests, both through urinalysis and blood testing. In the 21/2-month period leading to the fight, both fighters could be expected to be tested through urinalysis eight to 10 times and for blood five to six times. Schaefer said the blood testing is done because certain banned substances can’t be detected through urinalysis.
According to Schaefer, he was told by Top Rank president Todd duBoef that Pacquiao was superstitious about having blood drawn so close to a fight.
“Todd told me that Pacquiao has difficulty with taking blood and doesn’t want to do it so close to the fight,” Schaefer said. “He (Pacquiao) would only agree to have blood drawn before the kick-off news conference and after the fight.
“It is unfortunate to hear this from Manny Pacquiao’s representatives, particularly since, as of today, both parties had worked out all other issues related to this fight.”
Top Rank spokesman Lee Samuels said neither duBoef nor chairman Bob Arum is commenting on the drug-testing issue, which comes on the heels of the resolution of one of the final sticking points in the negotiations: the site for the fight.
Having the 16,200-seat Grand Garden as the venue is apparently set, as Golden Boy and Top Rank have asked the Nevada Athletic Commission, in its meeting next month, to approve the March 13 date for the MGM. Schaefer said it is up to Pacquiao now.
“I’m assuming he doesn’t know what’s going on,” Schaefer said of Pacquiao, who is in the Philippines. “If, in fact, he refuses to submit, I would have a lot of difficulty in asking any of our fighters to get in the ring with him.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913.