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Path to Pacquiao-Mayweather fight gets curiouser and curiouser

The big bout has been put off for several reasons, but it's twists in Pacquiao's defamation lawsuit against Mayweather over drug-use allegations that show there's still a bumpy road ahead.

August 08, 2011|Bill Dwyre
  • Will Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Manny Pacquiao ever face one another in the ring? Or will their battles be limited to the courtroom?
Will Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Manny Pacquiao ever face one another… (Isaac Brekken / Associated…)

As boxing awaits the Fight of the Century, a big question remains.

Which century?

It has been a couple of years since the matchup between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. became obvious and compelling. Now, with the passage of time, fans are beginning to see Pacquiao-Mayweather like a racing greyhound sees the mechanical rabbit. It's frustratingly elusive. It's out there, but they can't quite catch it.

Pacquiao is the most recent reincarnation of Rocky Marciano or Joe Louis. In his last half-dozen fights, opponents have come, puffed up their chests, talked trash and left battered and bagged. Boxing calls him the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. He is its biggest attraction, biggest name, biggest everything.

Beyond boxing, he is also bit of a pied piper. He was elected to the Philippine Congress in May of 2010, and, for all appearances, has made good on many of his election promises to help the poor and needy. Just last week, he used his role as a spokesman for Hewlett-Packard to get a donation of 2,000 computers to the schools of his district in the southern Philippine province of Sarangani.

If Mayweather Jr. has similar saintly tendencies, they aren't as apparent. That is, unless the poor and needy of his hometown of Las Vegas get their charitable contributions at casino nightclubs.

Still, his 41-0 record in the ring speaks to boxing fans, who can find a way to ignore arrogance and quarterly run-ins with police and security guards as long as his fists and feet are still fast. This is, after all, boxing, not a Sunday bake sale.

The big fight has been put off for several reasons, and certainly several more that only promoters Bob Arum (Pacquiao) and Al Haymon (Mayweather) know. There were Mayweather's various pending court cases, then his accusations of Pacquiao's use of performance-enhancing drugs, as well as Pacquiao's refusal to have blood tests close to a fight. There certainly were disputes over the split of the purse. Pacquiao is the big dog in the sport, but Mayweather still barks at his own stature.

Now, according to Arum, all of that has been cleared up. Each has a fight scheduled — Mayweather versus Victor Ortiz in September and Pacquiao versus Juan Manuel Marquez in November.

After that, will the curtains part in the spring and the two meet in the ring?

"There are no kinds of impediments now," Arum says.

Maybe not, but there is an interesting twist remaining.

When Mayweather and his camp started publicly accusing Pacquiao of being a drug user, of enhancing his performance and size with illegal substances, Pacquiao sued for defamation. Attorney Daniel Petrocelli of the Los Angeles firm of O'Melveny & Myers filed that suit Dec. 30, 2009. Since then, there has been the normal legal to-and-fro. A hundred more trees were chopped down in Oregon so each side could dazzle the other with "heretofores" and "notwithstandings."

Then, last Wednesday, Petrocelli filed a court document that asked the U.S. District Court in Nevada to find Mayweather in default and to establish a financial settlement that would cover legal fees and the damage Pacquiao has suffered to his name and reputation. No numbers were listed in that court document, but Petrocelli says the original conversations on his side included numbers "in the eight figures."

Since there are still some trees left in Oregon, this is not likely to happen with a quick and affirmative response from the judge. But the reason for this filing is, in itself, both interesting and a commentary on the bumpy road yet ahead for this fight to ever happen.

The Pacquiao complaint, filed in federal court, says that Mayweather has ducked numerous attempts by Pacquiao and the court to get him to sit down for a deposition. Mayweather's lawyers have responded that he is too busy training for his fight against Ortiz, and/or on a promotional tour, and cannot disrupt that schedule.

Petrocelli says, in the court filing and in an interview, that Mayweather lied repeatedly about his reasons for not being deposed. Petrocelli says, in the documents and an interview, that 24 different dates for a deposition were given to Mayweather, and he refused them all, saying he was training and/or on a promotional tour. The court documents include Twitter messages from Mayweather, saying where he was partying on several dates he had turned down depositions, and has pictures of him at nightclubs in Atlanta and Miami.

In one photo, on a date he had turned down, he was in an Atlanta at a nightclub, apparently burning a $100 bill.

"It would take a minimum-wage person in that city," Petrocelli says, "about 19 hours to earn that much money."

The court papers also say, "Floyd Mayweather may be 41-0 in the boxing ring, but he is not above the law." And, "Mayweather has no regard for the discovery process, this court's orders, or the gravity of these proceedings."

Petrocelli calls Mayweather a "contumacious litigant," which is important only because it marks the first time the word "contumacious" has appeared on an American sports page. Go ahead. Google it.

So, the Pacquiao-Mayweather saga gets sappier.

Will Mayweather end up fighting Ortiz in September for zero dollars, since he will have to use his purse if the court orders he owes Pacquiao? Will he fight Pacquiao only so he can get his house out of hock? Or will this be the straw that finally breaks the back of this Pacquiao-Mayweather fight for good?

It's weird, folks. But it's boxing.

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