Manny Pacquiao may indeed fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on March 13, but the opponent may not be Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Promoter Bob Arum on Thursday made an offer to former world champion Paulie Malignaggi for a fight with Pacquiao on March 13. Arum extended the offer to Malignaggi promoter Lou DiBella, who could not be reached for comment on Christmas Eve.
"Lou liked it, but he was having trouble getting a hold of Paulie to discuss it with him because of the holiday," Arum said.
While the offer hardly means the proposed Pacquiao-Mayweather fight is off, it makes resuscitating it that much harder. The fight, which is expected to be the highest-grossing bout in boxing history, has come to a halt over a dispute over drug testing.
Mayweather is insisting upon testing administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which requires random urine and blood testing up to and including on the day of competition. Pacquiao is willing to submit blood samples, though he doesn't want to give blood too close prior to a fight because he believes it weakens him.
Arum said Pacquiao would submit to testing, but wants it under the auspices of the Kansas City, Mo.-based National Center for Drug Free Sports.
"All we're asking is to get a different agency other than (USADA) because they're clearly inflexible," Arum said. "We can go with this other one and they'll come up with a protocol and get it done in an organized way and we'll still achieve the desired results. "The bottom line is that the (National Center for Drug Free Sports) could do it and wouldn't interfere as intrusively as USADA."
Arum said there appears nothing left to negotiate with the Mayweather side, because it will not back off its demand for testing by USADA. Arum said he spoke with Pacquiao's attorney, Franklin "Jeng" Gacal, on Thursday and said Gacal told him Pacquiao's position had not changed.
Arum said he decided to make an offer to Malignaggi because Pacquiao wants to fight before he begins his campaign for a seat in the Filipino congress.
"(Team Mayweather) has their position and we have ours and it looks like we're on different paths, so I made the offer to Lou (for Malignaggi)," Arum said. "No big deal."
Arum landed an unlikely ally on Thursday when super lightweight world champion Timothy Bradley spoke out in favor of his position.
Bradley was brought into the fray when his promoter, Gary Shaw, issued a news release saying that Bradley was willing to fight either Mayweather or Pacquiao if the fight between them fell apart.
But Shaw then did an interview with Boxingscene.com after his release became public and said Bradley wouldn't fight Pacquiao unless Pacquiao submitted to the same testing as Mayweather was requesting.
That would make little sense, because if Pacquiao were to accept such testing, he'd do it to fight Mayweather in what would be the richest fight in history.
And Bradley said that's not his position anyway. He said he hoped the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was made.
"This whole thing with Pacman and Mayweather is baloney with the steroid and blood testing thing," Bradley said. "The fans want to see this fight. Everyone wants to see the fight. I want to see it. This is the fight that should be made. But this testing stuff is crazy.
"I'm not worried about Manny Pacquiao. He's not on steroids. Just because he's destroying guys, you want to say he's on steroids? Come on. He's just that good. He's been tested how many times and he's never tested positive. Neither has Mayweather."
Bradley said he would fight either man if he were given an offer and said he wouldn't demand tests, as Shaw said he would.
He said he has confidence in commissions like the Nevada Athletic Commission and the California State Athletic Commission to properly administer testing.
"These are big-time commissions and they have a track record of doing the right thing and protecting fighters," he said. "They clearly take their jobs seriously. You have to do a lot to satisfy their requirements. I don't get why anyone would be asking for these blood tests above and beyond what Nevada or California might do.
"Neither guy has a history and I think history shows you that the boxers who have tried steroids find it doesn't work. Look at (Fernando) Vargas. When he fought Oscar (De La Hoya), it turns out he was on steroids and he got tired. Look what happened to him. He got knocked out."