- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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In late 2009, when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. were negotiating a March 2010 mega fight that the world wanted to see, it came down to a single outstanding issue that caused the fight to break up: Mayweather's insistence on random blood and urine testing for banned substances and Pacquiao's refusal to agree on the particulars.
That issue has been discussed ad nauseam since and even led to a lawsuit (since settled) from Pacquiao after Mayweather accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs.
In the years since, Pacquiao said numerous times he would undergo random blood and urine testing, but the fight with still never came to fruition when Mayweather came up with other reasons not to make the match.
Now, for the first time, Pacquiao is not just saying he would agree to be randomly tested, he is being tested as he and Brandon Rios prepare for their 12-round welterweight showdown on Saturday night at the CotaiArena at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China. Pacquiao and Rios are undergoing random testing by the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, an organization that has been widely used for major fights in the United States.
The fighters have been enrolled in the program since the late summer, when the fight was made, and can be tested 24/7, blood or urine.
During the initial Mayweather talks, Pacquiao claimed to be fearful of needles and said that was one of the reasons he didn't want to give blood. That is no longer an issue. Pacquiao has been tested at least three times, twice during his training camp in the Philippines, and once since arriving in China.
On Tuesday, Pacquiao's wakeup call came from VADA testers. According to Pacquiao spokesman Fred Sternburg, the PacMan "happily gave them a deposit at 7:30 a.m., after two bottles of water, then proceeded on his morning run."
Pacquiao's take on the testing protocol is a lot different than it was in 2009.
"There is no problem," Pacquiao said.
Rios has never objected to testing and didn't when the subject came up for this fight.
"I'm a clean fighter and I don't really need drug testing," Rios said. "They said they wanted drug testing for this fight so why not? I didn't ask for it. If they want drug testing, that's OK. It's not like I'm not going to fight him. I'm a clean fighter like I said. If they're not clean, that's OK. I am just worried about my camp and what we do and that's it."
Arum's own views of drug testing have also evolved and he said he picked VADA to be the testing agency for Pacquiao-Rios. VADA is the agency that caught Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto with banned substances in their systems leading to the cancellation of two major fights.
"I selected VADA because this is not the usual situation," Arum said. "This fight is taking place outside of the [United States] in a place [China] that isn't used to boxing. I needed a collection and testing agency that could handle testing outside the country since Manny was going to train in the Philippines, and they've been able to do it. They sent a collector twice [to the Philippines], I think from Germany, and I have confidence in their ability to do a good policing job. The only alternative I had was the other organization [USADA], which I don't care for."
The United States Anti-Doping Agency is what Mayweather uses for all of his fights. It is also the agency that caught Erik Morales using a banned substance -- three times -- in the leadup to his rematch with Danny Garcia, yet the fight was allowed to go on.
"We owe it to the public when we have these major boxing events to do the pre-testing in an effective way like we did in the [Juan Manuel] Marquez-[Timothy] Bradley fight [on Oct. 12] so that the public is assured that the two fighters competing against each other are absolutely clean."