While campaigning for political office in the Philippines this week, Manny Pacquiao took a moment to send a message back across the Pacific.
"Yes, I want [Floyd] Mayweather," Pacquiao is quoted in the Philippine Star telling boxing writer Michael Marley. Pac-man went on to declare if the fight happens he would "attack until Mayweather is gone."
It sounds all well and good; Manny prepared for fireworks in a super fight with Mayweather.
Of course, a lot of things politicians conjure up sound good. You can say all sorts of stuff that you don't mean or won't get done in an effort to appease the voters. In this case Pacquiao is playing politics with the blockbuster fight (or fights) boxing needs.
Pacquiao has identified the prime stumbling block to a proposed November fight, his opposition to the stringent, Olympic-style drug testing that Mayweather favors. Unfortunately, Pacquiao's position is not consistent with the facts of the past six months.
The real reason Mayweather-Pacquiao didn't happen this spring is not Mayweather's insistence on drug testing conducted by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
In negotiations last winter, Pacquiao agreed to that exact setup, only with a catch. The USADA wants to test either blood or urine up to the eve of the fight. Pacquiao demanded testing stop 24 days before the fight. Mayweather compromised to 14 days. Pac-man wouldn't budge.
And that was that, the fight was off and boxing fans were left with dueling lopsided events: Pacquiao shutting out Joshua Clottey in March; Mayweather dominating Shane Mosley on Saturday.
The issue – and the sole remaining issue – was that extra 10-day window of non-testing. Yet here is Pacquiao this week trying to rewrite history to create some kind of principled argument.
"My message to Mayweather, to the world, is simple," Pacquiao said to Marley. "I am not the lawmaker when it comes to the rules and regulations of any boxing commission. That is not my job or my duty. Neither is it Mayweather's unless he forms his own personal commission.
"I will comply fully with whatever drug test, blood or urine, rules are specified by the commission of the place where this fight is arranged."
Now, I'm not a Mayweather fan and I'm not a Pacquiao fan. I'm a boxing fan that wants to see the best fighters fight. I look at the impasse as infuriating. The misinformation and posturing by both sides alone is pathetic.
After witnessing decades of fraud and corruption in the sport, Pacquiao's argument that state boxing commissions are some infallible regulatory outfit is an insult to anyone with a modicum of intelligence. And while hammering out performance-enhancing drug testing standards is new ground in the fight game, everything else in boxing has long been negotiable – from the cut of the purse, to the weight of the gloves, to who gets to enter the ring last. The details are always in the demands.
Pacquiao's line is obviously just an emotional plea that will perhaps play well with his fans. Unfortunately for Manny, it just isn't true. He already agreed to the more stringent rules and regulations than the boxing commissions, a position he now supposedly finds too reprehensible to consider.
We repeat: He agreed to blood and urine testing by the USADA. He simply demanded a window where the testing would end. When he did that, the debate over the appropriateness of such testing ended. It shifted to Pacquiao's cut-off date, those 24 days.
Why the heck would an athlete ask for a 24-day break in testing? Pacquiao's camp has suggested Manny's belief that blood testing too close to the fight would weaken him, a position that defies all scientific knowledge, sporting precedent and common sense.
At the Olympics, doping agents do daily sweeps of athlete housing, drawing small amounts of blood and taking urine samples sometimes just hours before competition. At the Beijing Games swimmer Michael Phelps gave on the morning of one of his events. Mayweather and Mosley just went through USADA's testing plan to no ill effects.
A 24-hour window would be more than sufficient for Pacquiao to "recover." Twenty-four days is a huge gap of time, so big that it renders some of the testing moot. There is plenty of time in the non-testing period to run a sophisticated doping regime and still get it out of the system prior to a post-fight test.
Also too long, for that matter, is Mayweather's proposed 14-day stop date.
Consider a blood doping agent such as erythropoietin (EPO), which will increase red blood cell counts and improve stamina. Many doctors say it can be flushed out of a body in two to five days, which means the proper way to deter it is to allow testing within a few days of the fight and then immediately after.
This is why I considered Mayweather's proposed 14-day window such a major concession. It also says to me that he isn't actually all that concerned with Pacquiao doping and that this was just a way of running a head game on his opponent.
(Mayweather isn't innocent here, he just has, in this particular case, a far more defensible position. This despite the fact his crusade to make boxing clean is so obviously self-serving.)
That Mayweather gave up such a major position in the negotiations still wasn't enough for Pacquiao. To argue that two weeks is still too close to the fight is just ridiculous. If Team Pacquiao can come up with a fact-based argument to why an even longer stretch is needed, I'm dying to hear it.
Instead it's reverting back to emotional arguments over long-ago agreed upon points. Pacquiao is playing a politician – when dealing with bad facts, change the debate.
Yes, he claims he wants to fight Floyd Mayweather and will knock him out.
Unless he's willing to sign a fight contract, I'm more interested in having him accurately explain what he delayed things in the first place rather than hearing half-truths and smoke screens under the assumption no one's paying attention.
Because if even Manny Pacquiao isn't willing to defend his true position, is there any hope of this fight getting made?