If Monday's deadline for the Mayweather camp to agree to terms with the Pacquiao side holds true -- and that's unlikely -- you might want to get used to the idea of Manny Pacquiao facing Paulie Malignaggi on March 13 pay-per-view.
Martin Rogers of Yahoo! Sports reports that Richard Schaefer and Leonard Ellerbe both responded to Bob Arum's supposed "final offer," which would have everyone go in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and plead their case for or against the random blood testing that has been the sticking point in negotiations for this fight.
Richard Schaefer says it's not a commission issue:
"It does not make sense for this to become a commission matter. This is a contractual matter. The commission did not decide the weights or the purse split or how the foreign television rights would be sold."
Ellerbe was brief as well:
"Random is random. We are all intelligent people and we know what random testing is. That is what we want and it has not changed."
Ellerbe's quote doesn't really seem to match anything proposed or answer anything. Arum says they'll accept random testing if Nevada decides to do it themselves with the help of an outside company, but that they won't let Golden Boy or "Mayweather Promotions" decide who does the testing. Freddie Roach feels that the USADA is too stringent, which is a strange thing to say given that their entire job has nothing to do with flexibility. I mean, that's kind of the point. Not feeling like it right that second isn't an acceptable excuse for them, and there's a reason for that. What they do is quite important if they're assigned to do it.
I still have to believe that neither of these guys or their promoters will allow for this money to be left on the table. Sure, you can revisit the fight later in the year, but it'll have lost something. The public is demanding this fight now. When you've got something like this, something so white hot that it transcends the sport, you don't screw around with it and put together stay-busy fights with Paulie Malignaggi. If I clear my mind of everything that could be, Pacquiao-Paulie isn't such a bad fight at all, and I think it's got major sleeper potential (well, as much "sleeper" as any Pacquiao fight can be) as a tremendous fight to watch, but it's just not OK.
If they lose this fight now, it'll never be as big as it could have been. There is a such thing as bad press, and in a sports era where everyone from the long-hated Barry Bonds to American national treasure Lance Armstrong has been dragged into the stink of the performance-enhancing drugs scandal, this is all bad press. Combine the steroids allegations (fair or not) with the fact that boxing's reputation has improved in the last couple of years but still has plenty of dirt to brush off its shoulders, and you've got a business disaster waiting to happen.
It's unthinkable that they could all screw this up, but it appears possible.