With time running out to save a potential March 13 megafight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., the camps are heading to mediation on Tuesday in an effort to work out their differences.
Mediator Daniel Weinstein will preside over the meeting in Santa Monica, Calif. Weinstein, a retired federal judge, also mediated the acrimonious dispute that kept Top Rank, Pacquiao's promoter, and Golden Boy, which represents Mayweather, from doing fights together for almost two years.
"We're going into mediation," Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Pacquiao's promoter, told ESPN.com. "This guy was successful resolving our nutty problem before and hopefully he can be successful this time. He's a guy who is a big fight fan and loves the sport, and I found him last time to be a delight to deal with. Everybody did."
In a statement Monday to ESPN.com, Weinstein said the sides accepted the mediation without any conditions.
"After discussions with representatives of all parties I am satisfied that the parties are approaching the mediation in good faith," he said. "Neither side is insisting on pre-conditions to its participation in the mediation, and both sides will present their positions in an effort to resolve the dispute."
At the time of the previous mediation, the companies had several ongoing lawsuits, including the one at the center of the bad blood: ownership of the promotional rights to Pacquiao, who had signed contracts with both companies before eventually pledging his loyalty to Top Rank.
When the disputes were settled in June 2007, Arum and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer both credited Weinstein's steady hand for getting them to reach an accord. Under the global settlement, Top Rank retained Pacquiao's promotional rights with Golden Boy receiving a percentage of Top Rank's profit from his future bouts.
The hope is that Weinstein can once again help the sides see their way through what has become an increasingly nasty battle in an effort to finalize the bout between welterweight titlist Pacquiao and Mayweather, the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, in a fight many believe will break the pay-per-view record of 2.44 million buys. Mayweather's 2007 fight with Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya set the record.
Weinstein said both sides have agreed not to comment until after they meet with him.
AOL Fanhouse first reported the mediation plans Sunday night.
Top Rank and Golden Boy have agreed on all points on the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight except for one: The protocol for drug testing.
Even though the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which would oversee the bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, doesn't require blood testing, Mayweather has insisted on random blood testing. Both sides have already agreed to unlimited random urine testing.
Pacquiao has refused training camp-long random blood testing, agreeing only to three tests, one during the week of the kickoff news conference, which would take place in the next week or so if they finalize the fight, one random test to be conducted no later than 30 days before the fight and a final test in his dressing room after the fight.
Mayweather would be subject to the same testing procedures.
One issue sure to be discussed in front of the mediator is the impact of the defamation lawsuit Pacquiao filed last week in Nevada U.S. District Court against Mayweather Jr., Schaefer, De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Sr., Roger Mayweather and Mayweather Promotions.
In the suit, Pacquiao alleges they made false and defamatory statements and sullied his reputation by accusing him of taking performance-enhancing drugs. Pacquiao denies he has ever used PEDs and has never failed a drug test.
If mediation fails, and the fight does not get made, Arum said he will match Pacquiao with junior middleweight titlist Yuri Foreman, whom he also promotes, on March 20 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas so Pacquiao could attempt to win a title in a record eighth weight division.
Mayweather could still fight on March 13 at the MGM and potentially face former junior welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi.
Dan Rafael in the boxing writer for ESPN.com.