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Manny superfight is too big to let go

IT'S the fight everyone wants to see happen this year, but efforts to get Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr together in the ring are bogged down in a row over blood tests.

With each fighter set to pocket up to $50m for swapping punches, it seems certain that a way will be found to sort out the problems. It's just too big a money-spinner to let go.

But Top Rank chief Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, said on Wednesday that the fight was off. Pacquiao wanted the fight but Mayweather didn't, he declared.

The sides had met the previous day before a mediator, federal judge Daniel Weinstein, at his office in Santa Monica, California.

Weinstein listened to the arguments put forward by Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions/Mayweather Promotions. After nine hours of talks there was no agreement.

Contracts had actually been signed for the fight to take place on March 13, but Pacquiao pulled out after Mayweather demanded random drugs tests ahead of the bout.

While both boxers said they were happy to take unlimited urine tests, Pacquiao insisted he would submit to blood testing only on specific dates, and that they would end 30 days before the fight. The Filipino idol responded to insinuations that he had been using performance-enhancing drugs by taking a defamation suit against Mayweather, Floyd's father and uncle, and Golden Boy Promotions.

Mayweather's team attempted to diffuse the situation by issuing a statement claiming they had not accused Pacquiao of anything. Meanwhile, the fans are left feeling frustrated. All they want is to see the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world sorting out their differences where it matters -- in the ring.

Pacquiao became a five-weight world champion by defeating Miguel Cotto in November, while Mayweather returned from a 21-month absence to beat Juan Manuel Marquez in September.

If the showdown doesn't come off, both sides have contingency plans. Top Rank has Pacquiao lined up to move up yet another division to take on unbeaten WBA light-middleweight champion Yuri Foreman, who is with the same promoters. That's scheduled for either March 13 or 20 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.

The former date is also favoured by Golden Boy Promotions to put Mayweather in with former light-welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi at a venue yet to be decided.

Pacquiao vs Foreman looks the more intriguing match. The Filipino would be going for his sixth world title in separate divisions against the New York-based Belarusian.

Foreman has good boxing ability but not much of a punch. He has only stopped eight of his 29 opponents. One of those he outpointed was Arklow's James Moore in December 2008.

While Pacquiao has speed and power, he might not be strong enough at light-middle to hurt Foreman, who could weigh as much as a super-middleweight by fight time.

Mayweather vs Malignaggi would be a pure boxing match between two quick, defensive-minded competitors. The pre-fight trash talk could be carried over into the fight itself. These are just compromise matches, however. The only fight that really matters is Pacquiao vs Mayweather. Like the man says: let's get it on!