The richest fight in boxing history is bust.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. would not agree to a compromise on his insistence for Olympic-style drug testing and, as a result, the planned March 13 bout with Manny Pacquiao is officially off, promoter Bob Arum told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday.
The bout would have been the richest in boxing history and would have guaranteed each fighter at least $25 million, with their take likely soaring over $40 million apiece after pay-per-view sales were counted.
The fight would have matched the two men who are widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world in a rare No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown. Pacquiao is No. 1 in the Yahoo! Sports rankings and Mayweather is No. 2.
Mediator Daniel Weinstein, a retired federal judge, was unable to bring the sides to an agreement for the historic bout after two days of negotiations over the drug-testing dispute.
"Manny's reaction is that he's very disappointed because he wanted to give the fans this fight," Pacquiao adviser Mike Koncz, his de facto manager, said by telephone from the Philippines, where he is with Pacquiao. "He is upset his reputation has been tarnished and he wants his fans to know that at some point, you have to stand on principle. He's walking away from $35 million, $40 million, maybe $50 million on principle."
Pacquiao last week filed a defamation lawsuit in federal court against Mayweather, his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., Golden Boy Promotions, Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya and CEO Richard Schaefer for alleging he used performance-enhancing drugs. Pacquiao's suit will go forward.
Top Rank spokesman Lee Samuels read a statement and said the company would make no further comment.
"No deal has been reached," the Top Rank statement began. "We cannot discuss details. Manny is moving on. It doesn't appear Mayweather wants to fight Pacquiao."
Neither Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, nor Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, could be reached for comment. Ellerbe and Schaefer represent Mayweather.
In a Dec. 22 press release, Mayweather laid out his concerns. "I think it is our responsibility to subject ourselves to sportsmanship at the highest level," Mayweather stated. "I have already agreed to the testing and it is a shame that he is not willing to do the same.
Arum said he planned to contact Murray Wilson, the manager of World Boxing Association super welterweight champion Yuri Foreman, on Thursday about a potential fight with Pacquiao in March.
Arum said he wants to keep the fight in Las Vegas but the date and venue are still uncertain. He said he will speak to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones later about putting a Pacquiao-Foreman fight in Cowboys Stadium. Jones made an aggressive bid to land the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
Mayweather had been considering a fight with former super lightweight champion Paulie Malignaggi as an alternative to a bout with Pacquiao, though the status of such bout could not be determined.
Koncz said Pacquiao has not agreed to fight Foreman yet and has expressed concern about Foreman's height. Pacquiao, who began his career as a 106-pounder, is 5-foot-6½ inches. Foreman is 5-11, a half-inch taller than De La Hoya, who is the tallest man Pacquiao has fought.
"Did we reject [a Foreman fight]? No. Did we accept it? No. We're going to sit down tomorrow, Manny, myself and [attorney Jeng Gacal] and see if we can come up with an alternative opponent. We'll communicate that to Bob and [trainer] Freddie [Roach] and see what their thoughts are on it."
Koncz, though, was not surprised that the mediation attempt to salvage the Mayweather fight failed. He had been skeptical throughout whether Mayweather really wanted the fight and said his actions in refusing to bend prove he didn't want it.
Koncz said Pacquiao had agreed to a compromise in which he'd be blood tested 24 days from the bout, but Mayweather would not budge from his demand for random blood and urine testing up to and including the day before the bout.
"This is no surprise," Koncz said. "I talk to a lot of people and it's been my belief all along that the drug testing issue is a façade and a way for Mayweather to get out of the fight.
"After Manny fought [Erik] Morales [in 2005], he attributed the loss to the late blood test he took and I think they came across that. They initially wanted to use this as a way to get under Manny's skin … but it was also a way he could bow out of the fight."
- Manny Pacquiao