Blood has never got in the way of a deal being made in the ring, but the stand-off between Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Manny Pacquiao over the American’s dope-testing demands could scupper the one fight the world wants to see. (Apart from identikits David Cameron and Nick Clegg – the ultimate Blue-Collar bout – which is now off given that Gordon Brown has thrown in the towel.)
Ailing badly at the box office, boxing needs ‘Pretty Boy’ and ‘Pac Man’ to get it on, and determine the mythical mantle of ‘world’s best’. But Mayweather’s suspicions stem from Pacquiao’s relentless progress from flyweight to welterweight, winning titles at every level along the way. And all while maintaining his devastating punching power and lightning speed despite being 17lbs heavier, and with no loss of definition.
Most experts believe this to be either a freak of nature or something more sinister. The Filipino, who is currently running for election to congress in the Philippines, has refused to give blood within 24 days of a fight, claiming it makes him feel weak. Well, if that’s the case, and assuming he cuts just like anyone else, he’s in the wrong game.
In a cynical world, perception is everything and British world lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell says it looks at least like Pacquiao, the last man to beat Ricky Hatton (a mild boast Mayweather can also make) has something to hide; but that those making the loudest allegations are chucking rocks in glasshouse country.
“I think the Americans have been doing it for years – they all fly through weight divisions but still look like He-Man,” the ‘Dagenham Destroyer’ says. “[They] go up five weights and are still smashing people. That only happens in comic books. Roy Jones and Shane Mosley have been caught and something’s happening out there.”
His journalistic namesake, Kevin Mitchell of The Observer, is, by my reckoning, the best ‘pound-for-pound’ boxing writer around. He feels a compromise will be arrived at to both sate Mayweather’s monstrous ego and enable Pacquiao to save face.
“It has to be the most anticipated fight in boxing since, well, pick a great fight from the past: Ali-Frazier I, Hagler-Hearns, Leonard-Hagler? That pretty much sums up where we’re at in boxing: looking back and living in hope for a fight that re-ignites the business,” Mitchell acknowledges.
If and when it does happen they won’t need to hype the grudge factor, that’s for sure.