Yesterday, something like a breakthrough occurred in the dreadfully disheartening negotiations to make Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao, only very likely the biggest-selling fight ever. For the first time, Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, opened the door to the random drug testing Mayweather, represented by Golden Boy Promotions, sought. GBP put out a news release saying it found footage of Pacquiao getting blood drawn 14 days before the Ricky Hatton fight he won by 2nd round knockout, which would contradict Pacquiao’s stance that he isn’t comfortable giving blood 30 days before the Mayweather fight. That prompted Arum to say he’d try talking to Pacquiao and convincing him that they could do some testing in that 30-day window.
Today, the opposite of a breakthrough happened in the painfully unpleasant effort to give Mayweather and Pacquiao $40 million each to fight one another. Pacquiao’s team discovered that the footage actually was from closer to 24 days before the fight. That was closer to 30 days than 14, which meant Pacquiao’s team felt justified in their 30-day stance. In a news release, Pacquiao uttered this gem of a quote in response to a claim by GBP that nobody from GBP or the Mayweather team had accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs: “Liars go to hell.” Lawyers are being dispatched for lawsuits and promotional disputes. Arum began laying the groundwork for Pacquiao to move up from welterweight to junior middleweight to fight Yuri Foreman, a fight nobody in their right mind cares one iota about. Mayweather’s team began laying the groundwork for Mayweather to fight Matthew Hatton, a fight nobody who enjoys boxing cares one iota about.
Maybe this fight still happens in March. Maybe this fight happens instead in September. Maybe it never happens. Whatever the case, it is increasingly the case that damage is getting done, for everyone. In an appropriately scathing article that calls out all parties involved for their terrible hypocrisy, Kevin Iole offers:
The point here is that nobody in this mess has clean hands. The best thing to do would have been to clearly and succinctly lay out the position of each side and then work quietly toward a solution. Instead, the endless back-and-forth has given the impression that boxing is a lawless sport run by those looking for what they can take out of it, not how they can build it.
Boxing needs Mayweather-Pacquiao. The attention the fight will generate is enormous and it will serve as an exhibition of the many good things that have been occurring, largely unnoticed, in the sport over the last several years. Hopefully, those who stand to benefit the most from the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will remember that, before the rest of us shrug our shoulders and move on.
And that’s really just the beginning of what ill might come.
It’s hard to believe that anybody would throw all this away. It would take a toxic mixture of stupidity, stubbornness, overweening pride, poor thinking, excessive emotion and a complete lack of forethought that exceeds the reckless foolishness of just about any single decision in the sport, ever. Mayweather-Pacquiao would make history if it happened. If it doesn’t, it still will go down in history — but as one of the sorriest episodes in a sport that has a long list of sorry episodes.