The most highly touted fight that never was in boxing history, Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr., will likely not come to fruition says Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum.
Arum, of course, has been front and center from the very beginning of negotiations for this superfight, playing a key role in discussions periodically coming together and ultimately falling apart. Over the past year, he has been both enthusiastic about the prospects of this once-inevitable dream match coming together, and other times, completely pessimistic on the chances of his camp and Mayweather’s camp finding a common ground.
Most recently, while doing press for Pacquiao’s upcoming bout against Juan Manuel Marquez, Arum paused to speak on the only Pacquiao-related topic anyone really wants to hear about at this point. On the issue of Pacquiao subjecting himself to stringent drug testing -- which was the initial hold-up between everyone involved) -- Arum told ESPN this:
"Manny has taken the position that he would agree to unlimited testing," Arum said. "It is a non-f------ issue."
Then, Arum being Arum, proceeded to contradict himself a moment later.
"The testing would have to be done by WADA, which means when Manny trains in the Philippines, whoever they use in Asia to do the testing would do it," Arum said. "When Manny is training in the United States, they would use USADA. WADA gets the agency to supervise the testing in the Philippines. But the point is, it all has to be done under the overall authority of the boxing commission wherever you have the fight."
So, drug testing is still a stumbling block – just a different one than we heard about in the past. Previously, the issue was whether Pacquiao would agree to Mayweather’s tougher-than-usual drug testing demands. Now, clearly the problem is which organization will be permitted to conduct the testing. It’s still a drug testing-related concern, fully capable of potentially destroying the match, just in a different wrapper.
This minor but very telling inconsistency is typical of Arum. About a month ago, he famously told Michael Marley that money was no longer a problem in a potential dream fight between his guy and Mayweather because both agreed to split everything down the line, 50-50. Then, Pacquiao, while doing press with Marquez, said the complete oppoisite – that Mayweather was demanding far too much money.
When ESPN pressed Arum on what his gut feeling about the fight coming together was, the famed promoter had this to say:
"I'm not optimistic," Arum said. "I think Mayweather will look for a way not to do the fight. I smell the initial drum beat of 'You're not allowed to train in the Philippines' because of [who oversees] the testing. Once Mayweather says that, he can go f--- himself. Then it becomes a major political issue when he says Manny can't train in his home country. Besides, nobody would subject themselves to that type of restriction."
Translation: don’t hold your breath.