Promoters for Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have asked an independent mediator to help settle an impasse over random drug testing that has jeopardized the March 13 megafight in Las Vegas.
Representatives of Top Rank, which promotes Pacquiao, and Golden Boy Promotions, which is doing the negotiating for Mayweather, will meet today with retired federal judge Daniel Weinstein in Santa Monica, Calif., in what is seen as a last-gasp attempt to save the bout.
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Mayweather has insisted that Pacquiao submit to random blood tests in addition to random urine tests before he would sign off on the fight, which could be worth as much as $40 million each to the fighters.
Of Weinstein, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said, "He's a terrific guy. He's a tremendous negotiator. But remember, this isn't binding arbitration. This is mediation. He can only try to bring the two sides together."
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said he won't comment until after today's session.
Pacquiao has objected to being blood tested right before the fight. He agreed to be tested prior to the kickoff news conference, again 30 days prior to the fight and then immediately after the fight at the MGM Grand. Mayweather's camp said that is unacceptable and wants random blood testing imposed.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef talked last week with Golden Boy's Bruce Binkow, the company's chief marketing officer, in an attempt to forge an agreement. They reportedly made progress, but not enough to complete a deal.
Weinstein has a history with both Top Rank and Golden Boy pertaining to Pacquiao. He mediated the dispute over Pacquiao's promotional contract in 2007 that ultimately gave Top Rank control of Pacquiao's career, with Golden Boy receiving a percentage of his earnings.
Pacquiao last week sued Mayweather, his father, his uncle and Golden Boy for defamation after they alleged Pacquiao had used steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court in Las Vegas.
Whether the lawsuit will color today's mediation session remains to be seen. If Mayweather agrees to drop his demand for random blood tests, he might demand Pacquiao drop his lawsuit in exchange.
If Weinstein can't settle the differences, both fighters are prepared to move forward against other opponents.
Arum has said Pacquiao, a world champion in seven weight divisions, would fight WBA junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman on March 20 at the Thomas & Mack Center and go for an unprecedented eighth world title.
Mayweather would likely keep the March 13 date at the MGM Grand and possibly fight Paulie Malignaggi, who won an impressive 12-round unanimous decision last month over Juan Diaz.
Neither fighter was available for comment.