Floyd Mayweather Jr. was expected to provide the toughest test of Manny Pacquiao's career -- only it was supposed to happen in a boxing ring.
The superstars' proposed March 13 showdown at the MGM Grand Garden appears to be off, scrapped by Pacquiao's objection to the Mayweather camp's insistence on stringent prefight blood testing administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Pacquiao's promoter, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, said Wednesday that his fighter will not submit to the multiple blood tests. If Mayweather refuses to compromise on the issue, Pacquiao will fight someone else on March 13, possibly Yuri Foreman or Paulie Malignaggi.
"The fight is off as of now," Arum said. "Will they be able to save it? I don't know. But in my heart, I never believed Mayweather wanted to fight Pacquiao, and this is his way of getting out of it.
"This whole exercise is a malicious attempt to smear Manny Pacquiao. I knew what their game was, and I wasn't going to allow them to put Manny through that."
Mayweather's camp has inferred that Pacquiao's enhanced size and strength did not come naturally and wants him to submit to Olympic-style random drug testing, including five to six blood tests and as many as 10 urine tests.
Pacquiao has not flunked a drug test in his 13 years as a professional. Arum said Pacquiao is willing to be blood tested on a limited basis, either through the Nevada Athletic Commission or through an independent agency like those that administer tests for the NFL and the NBA.
"Manny has said all along he would allow himself to have blood drawn," Arum said. "But he's not going to have blood drawn right before he enters the ring. That's ridiculous.
"In my mind, since the fight was going to be in Las Vegas, the Nevada commission has jurisdiction over the fight. They should be the ones overseeing the testing. If that's not acceptable (to Mayweather), then have an independent agency do it."
According to Arum, Pacquiao would allow his blood to be tested in early January, coinciding with a kickoff news conference in New York, again 30 days before the fight and once more after the fight. In addition, Pacquiao would submit to an unlimited number of urine tests.
Arum said the USADA would not be able to meet those terms because of its protocol.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef was talking Wednesday to Richard Schaefer, the chief executive officer of Golden Boy Promotions, who has been representing Mayweather in the negotiations, to see if Mayweather would accept a compromise. On Tuesday, both Schaefer and Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's co-manager, said their stance on drug testing through the USADA was non-negotiable and that they would not permit the NAC to administer the additional tests.
On Wednesday, Schaefer seemed to be softening his stance slightly.
"I saw Bob's comments, and it's not really random when he's proposing specific dates," Schaefer said. "I think the blood testing is important because if you don't do blood, things like EPO and HGH can't be detected.
"But I'm not willing to give up. I think it needs calmer heads and some diplomacy. If we get that, maybe we can get this done. Let's see what happens in the next couple of days."