Floyd Mayweather Jr., shown at a 2010 weigh-in ceremony, is still insisting… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
Reporting from Las Vegas — The most problematic issue preventing a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao super-fight has been Mayweather's insistence that both submit to random, Olympic-style blood tests for performance-enhancing drugs.
Mayweather doesn't want to budge from this position because, from his perspective, it's just an extension of the principles he's based his boxing career on: Stay out of harm's way, make a lot of money.
The 34-year-old Mayweather (41-0, 25 knockouts) has long said there's no glory in taking punishment to the head in the boxing ring, and he's established a legacy as one of the greatest defensive fighters in the sport's history.
"I don't care how much money is negotiated," Mayweather said at his Las Vegas gym as he trains for his Sept. 17 fight against WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz at the MGM Grand. "This [performance-enhancing drug testing] is what I want. Look at how these guys end up punch-drunk in this sport.
"I'm sorry, but all of a sudden a guy [Pacquiao] at age 25 becomes a great fighter? I want to be on a level playing field with this guy. We're fighting at the highest level, talking about the biggest fight ever. You should have the greatest testing too," Mayweather said.
Pacquiao, 32, will next fight Nov. 12 against Juan Manuel Marquez.
Mayweather stepped over a line in his suspicion of Pacquiao, declaring last year in a video that he believes the Filipino fighter has used "power pellets" to win previous fights. Pacquiao is suing Mayweather in federal court in Nevada for defamation, and Mayweather is overdue to give a deposition in the case.
Despite long-standing bitterness between Mayweather and Pacquiao, and three previous failed fight negotiations, there are signs both camps are closer to reaching an agreement on a drug-testing protocol.
Mayweather dismissed as "hearsay" reports he's balked at lucrative financial guarantees as lofty as $65 million to take on Pacquiao.
As Mayweather talked Friday, a woman who had chatted with him previously during a workout returned, handing him a Las Vegas sports book ticket showing a major bet on the Pittsburgh Steelers-Washington Redskins' preseason NFL game.
"Look what I just won," Mayweather said, revealing a five-figure payoff.
It reinforced his point: He has enough money.
"Anytime I lace them up now, just know it's over $50 million. So it's not about the money. I can get the money in any fight I take," Mayweather said. "It's about me being able to say, 'This is what I want.'"
As part of his contract, Mayweather insisted Ortiz agree to a more stringent drug-testing procedure than the random urine tests required by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is performing random blood tests on Mayweather and Ortiz, as it did in Mayweather's most recent fight in May 2010, against Shane Mosley.
Bob Arum, Pacquiao's promoter, says his fighter is willing to accept being subjected to blood testing rules under the World Anti-Doping Agency code, which keeps the blood sample schedule unannounced. Pacquiao had previously said he didn't want to be tested within 14 days of a fight.
"You can't have a window where an athlete knows he'll not be tested," said Travis Tygart, head of the USADA. "Unannounced testing is part of the deterrent."
Arum said the tricky part of a testing program will be in establishing consequences for events like a missed test, or for a banned prescription drug that is prohibited in the Olympics.
Arum wants a state boxing commission, like Nevada's, to have a say in establishing such guidelines to avoid an unreasonable fight cancellation.
So perhaps the super-fight fans want to see is on track for 2012 — assuming Mayweather and Pacquaio win their next bouts.
Asked if he'll take the fight as long as Pacquiao cooperates in an effective drug-testing program, Mayweather said, "Absolutely. Write that word down 10 times in a row. I absolutely want the fight."