Key to super fight could be '24/7' testing
This story has been clarified. Read below
With the proposed March 13 Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. super fight hanging in the balance as the camps continued to slug it out over drug-testing protocol Monday, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum said he was open to talking to his fighter again about the timing of the prefight blood test.
Top Rank's Arum had set a Monday deadline to finalize a deal.
Also Monday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which would oversee the fight because it is due to take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, set in motion plans to randomly test the urine of both fighters regardless of whether the fight takes place.
Throughout negotiations over the drug testing -- the final point the sides need to agree on -- Pacquiao has said he would submit to unlimited random urine tests. However, he refused Mayweather's demand to have random blood testing. Instead, Pacquiao agreed to take three tests, one during the week of the kickoff news conference in early January, one random test to be conducted no later than 30 days before the fight, and a final test in his dressing room after the fight. Mayweather would be subject to the same testing.
However, Pacquiao's past actions might help Arum convince him to tighten the window for the final random blood test.
When HBO televised "Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7" -- the four-part series that followed the buildup to Pacquiao's second-round knockout of Ricky Hatton to win the junior welterweight title in Las Vegas last May -- it aired footage of Pacquiao taking a routine blood test as part of his prefight medical exam in Los Angeles.
The blood test was conducted 24 days before the fight; it punches holes in Pacquiao's argument that giving blood inside 30 days of a fight negatively impacts his performance.
Arum was intrigued by the "24/7" scenario. He told Reuters on Monday that he was ready to move away from Mayweather and announce a new opponent on Tuesday for Pacquiao, but that was before the "24/7" scenario was brought to his attention.
"I will transmit it [word of Pacquiao's '24/7' test] to Manny once [HBO Sports president] Ross Greenburg establishes the actual date of the test in '24/7' and [the Mayweather camp] makes a proposal based on what Ross has come up with," Arum told ESPN.com from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. "If that happens, I am sure I can convince Manny" to tighten the testing window.
Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy, which is promoting Mayweather for the fight, was also made aware of the "24/7" footage, telling ESPN.com, "I need to discuss it with Team Mayweather. We need to find out what it means if you cut off testing 14 days before the fight. I want to talk to [Mayweather advisers] Al Haymon and Leonard [Ellerbe]."
Although talks had broken down on Sunday, the camps were at least talking again on Monday afternoon after they learned of the "24/7" scenario.
"It's a very good point to point out that Manny was tested so close to the [Hatton] fight," Arum said. "I'm not going to suggest anything to him though, until I hear from the other guys. They have to say, 'This is what Manny did. Here is what we propose.' Then I will bring it to Manny and say, 'Manny, look, you took this test however many days before the fight and it didn't affect you. Hey, you knocked him out in two rounds.'
"What will Manny do? I assume he will listen to me, but I can't promise anything. But I want [Mayweather's camp] to make a formal proposal that this is the outside date for the blood testing based on Manny's prior test in '24/7' and then I will move mountains."
Prior to discussing the "24/7" scenario, the camps were looking at alternative March fights. Both camps had reached out to former junior welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi. Arum was also prepared to have Pacquiao challenge for a title in a record-extending eighth weight class against Yuri Foreman, a Top Rank junior middleweight who won a belt on the Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto undercard on Nov. 14.
"We'll ask the MGM which fight they want [Pacquiao's or Mayweather's] and the MGM will then pick the fight and alienate one of the fighters forever," Arum said. "We have another date [of March 20] that we can go on outside of the MGM and we will do that if we have to. If HBO takes sides, which they're free to do, we have discussed alternatives."
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, the Nevada commission held its final meeting of 2009. At the conclusion of the 25-minute meeting, chairwoman Pat Lundvall closed by invoking the commission's right to conduct random urine tests on Pacquiao and Mayweather.
"The Nevada administrative code obligates any unarmed combatant to submit to tests if they're directed to do so by a member of the commission for prohibited substances," Lundvall said at the public meeting. "And it was in 2007 that we amended our regulations to ensure we were following the World Anti-Doping Agency's prohibited list. ... That is the list we adhere to for the purposes of the testing that is conducted through the athletic commission. We determined that those provisions applied not only immediately before and after a fight, but also to random testing during training, and that any member of the commission can request such a random test."
Lundvall asked commission executive director Keith Kizer to employ the commission's random testing procedure and "request a urine sample from Floyd Mayweather as well as Manny Pacquiao. They're both licensees and they are subject to these kinds of exams whether the proposed fight goes forward or not.
"Random testing is the best way to evaluate the compliance with our rules and regulations against prohibited substances and the primary reason for that is that an athlete doesn't have time to cycle out or flush out any prohibited substances, and therefore random testing is the best thing to employ, which is why I thought it was a good idea for Keith to inform these fighters that we would like to have a sample and move forward with our random testing."
Commissioner Bill Brady added that he supported the request to ensure the safety of the fighters as well as to "reassure the public worldwide that when anyone fights in Nevada that they can count on those fights being fair, above board and on a level playing field. I think it's important that the public knows the commission takes their responsibility seriously."
Pacquiao and Mayweather must submit to the tests within 48 hours or face possible fines or suspension by the Nevada Athletic commission.
"That at least starts the ball rolling," Kizer said.
Mayweather lives in Las Vegas, so that should not be an issue. But even with Pacquiao in the Philippines, Kizer said the commission has labs it works with worldwide.
Kizer said the results would likely be back within a week of the test.
"That's fine, no problem at all," Arum said when told of Nevada's ruling. "We are absolutely in favor of it. That's what they should be doing. That's what they do in other sports. I see no reason why they shouldn't do it here. We support it 100 percent. I really applaud the way the Nevada commission has acted.
"I will check with Mayweather," Schaefer said, reacting to Nevada's request. "Right now, I need to focus on getting the fight done."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.
In a Dec. 28 ESPN.com story on the potential Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight, it was written that Pacquiao had taken a blood test 14 days before his May fight with Ricky Hatton. Documents provided show the test was on April 8, 24 days prior to the fight (but still within a 30-day window prior to the fight). HBO showed the footage 14 days before the fight and the information was incorrectly given to ESPN.com. Quotes in the story were based on the information that the blood test took place 14 days before the Hatton fight. The story has been adjusted to reflect the new information.