NEW YORK: It seems Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will be forever linked, regardless of whether they ever face each other in the ring.
The two have danced around the richest fight in boxing for several years, unable to come to terms. Meanwhile, their animosity has grown to the point that Pacquiao has a pending defamation lawsuit alleging Mayweather unfairly accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs.
So it’s not surprising that Mayweather spent just as much time answering questions about Pacquiao on Tuesday as he did about Victor Ortiz, the welterweight champion whom he will face in his next fight on Sept. 17 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“I’ve never said that Manny Pacquiao was taking steroids, I never said he was taking enhancement drugs,” said Mayweather, who failed to turn up for a court-ordered deposition in Las Vegas earlier this month involving the defamation suit.
“I want to fight the best they got out there, not just him, the best they got out there,” Mayweather said, “and if he’s on the list as one of the best guys, then absolutely.”
Mayweather said he’s willing to fight Pacquiao if there is random blood and urine testing, which is more stringent than the protocol used by most state athletic associations. Mayweather said Pacquiao’s team would only agree to blood and urine testing at certain times.
“It’s not just Pacquiao, it’s sports, period,” Mayweather said. “If you look at sports in the Olympics, they’re cheating. Everyone is cheating. And I never once said Manny Pacquiao was cheating, only thing I said was this: Me and any other opponent I face must take the test.”
Mayweather will be returning to the ring for the first time since defeating Shane Mosley in May 2010, though the undefeated former champion has made plenty of news since then.
Last Friday, 21-year-old Anthony Cliff filed a lawsuit accusing Mayweather of ordering his bodyguards to attack the man outside the Palms Casino Resort on March 27, 2010.
Mayweather also faces felony charges stemming from a domestic argument and misdemeanour harassment and battery charges in separate cases.
“When you’re young, black and rich, you go through things in life,” Mayweather said. “But I’m a strong individual. I can survive through anything.”
Mayweather’s adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, declined to discuss the litigation.
“We focus on the business part and the boxing part,” Ellerbe said. “We let the attorneys handle the legal stuff.” — AP