An impasse over the drug-testing protocol to be used in the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather welterweight title bout can be overcome if Mayweather agrees to allow the agencies used by the NBA, NFL and MLB to handle testing for boxing's biggest fight, Top Rank's Bob Arum, who promotes Pacquiao, said Wednesday.
"Our suggestion is to utilize any of the independent agencies that work with the National Football League, the National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball, since they administer drug testing for their professional athletes," Arum said.
The fight, which was tentatively scheduled for March 13 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, was knocked off track Tuesday over a significant disagreement on drug testing.
Mayweather continues to demand Olympic-style testing, which is conducted by the United States Anti Doping Agency. Its protocol calls for random urine and blood testing throughout the training camps, fight week -- even the day of the fight -- and immediately after the fight. According to Leonard Ellerbe, a Mayweather adviser, that means something like three to five blood tests and 10 to 12 urine tests over an approximately 10-week period.
Mayweather would be subject to the same testing as Pacquiao.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission and other state commissions conduct only postfight urine tests and, in some cases, prefight urine tests.
Floyd Mayweather Sr., the fighter's father, has repeatedly accused Pacquiao of taking illegal substances. Pacquiao, who has risen through seven weight divisions to win titles in a record seven divisions while maintaining his speed and power, denies it. He has also never failed a drug test.
"Manny says, 'I'm not going to let them take my blood whenever they want when I'm getting seriously ready for a fight. They can take all the urine they want,' " Arum said. "My fighter feels uncomfortable with that and feels that would weaken him. I know if I deal with an organization that deals with pro athletes we can agree to the protocol."
Arum said that USADA's testing procedures would not allow it to assure Pacquiao that he would at least not be blood tested during the week of the fight or even on the day of the fight.
"He'll give them blood but he wants to know it will stop at a particular point," Arum said. "He wants the fight. But he's a proud guy. He won't be pushed around by this guy [Mayweather]."
Ellerbe said that if Pacquiao won't submit to random testing, it must mean he has something to hide.
"The reason why they don't want to do that is because obviously there is something to hide," Ellerbe said. "You're not going to dictate to an organization like USADA, which has tested the elite athletes of the world, on how their testing is conducted. Arum is talking about the fighters like they're going to have a blood transfusion. We're talking about a tablespoon of blood. We're taking about a tablespoon. This is the same representation of Manny Pacquiao that says he's superstitious and doesn't like needles and then you look all over his body and he has tattoos. So which one is it? If there's nothing to hide then what is the problem?
"Boxing has an opportunity and a platform with the whole world watching to say we have a clean sport. What better opportunity that with the two top guys in the sport stepping up to make this happen?"
Arum said Pacquiao would submit to three blood tests, even though he would prefer not to have his blood drawn at all.
"Let's be very clear on the real issues we differ on. It's not about being tested," Arum said. "Manny is on board with that since it's such a major concern of Floyd Mayweather Jr. It's about who does the testing and the scheduling of the procedures.
"Manny will submit to as many random urine tests requested," Arum said. "Regarding the blood tests, he will subject himself to three tests -- one given in January during the week the fight is formally announced, one 30 days from the fight, no later than Feb. 13, and the final one immediately following the fight, in Manny's locker room.
"The major issue related to the testing rests with which independent agency will administer these tests," he said. "The United States Anti Doping Agency cannot do it because they will not amend its procedures to accommodate the blood testing schedule we have outlined. USADA, under its guidelines, would have the right to administer random blood tests as many times as they want up to weigh-in day and that is ludicrous.
"If Mayweather Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions are sincere in creating 'a level playing field,' as they stated in their [Monday news] release, our recommendations should put their minds at ease. If not, one has to wonder if their motives are more about leveling the fight."
Arum said that if they use the agencies that administer testing to the American professional sports leagues they could write down a specific set of guidelines, while USADA will conduct testing only one way.
"You gotta understand," Arum said. "I'm dealing with a Filipino fighter who is superstitious and I have to tell him they [USADA] have the power to come into his dressing room before the fight and take his blood. Any time means any time. They would put nothing in writing as to any kind of schedule. That is ludicrous. Let's bring in the testers from the NBA or the NFL or baseball."
Ellerbe said Mayweather is not interested in anything other than the USADA way of doing things because its way is random.
"We're sticking to what we've been saying," Ellerbe said. "Manny Pacquiao or any of his representatives are not going to dictate random testing. That's the whole point of random testing, so you don't get a chance to study for the test. USADA is the premiere agency for doing this, the gold standard. They're not going to have Top Rank, Mayweather Promotions or Golden Boy Promotions dictate to them. It's pretty simple. Manny Pacquiao can put an end to this whole thing by stepping up to the plate and doing this."
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.