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Pacquiao-Mayweather: Weinstein to the rescue

04
Jan

Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, the biggest promoters in boxing, were at each others’ throats. Lawsuits were involved. Nasty, counterproductive comments flew back and forth. And the acrimony prevented them from doing business.

That was 2007, when the companies were unable to resolve disputes over promotional rights for Manny Pacquiao and other issues.

In stepped a court-ordered mediator, retired federal judge Daniel Weinstein. The sides emerged from two weeks of mediation with a resolution to their conflicts and the ability to work together on some of the biggest fights of the past few years.

Now, as we enter 2010, Top Rank and Golden Boy — as well as their charges, Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. — are in a similar position. An impasse over blood testing and a law suit alleging defamation have threatened to scuttle a March 13 super fight, which both sides obviously want to save.

So who ya gonna call? Weinstein, of course.

The fighters’ representatives and Weinstein are scheduled to meet on Tuesday at the mediator’s office in Santa Monica, Calif., which apparently is the last — and best — opportunity to get the fight made after weeks of insanity.

The guess here is that Weinstein will succeed again for several reasons.

One, the fact the sides agreed to go to a mediator is clear evidence that they desperately want to make the fight, which most experts believe will be the richest in the history of the sport. That kind of determination — and motivation — usually leads to a resolution.

Two, they (Top Rank and Golden Boy) believe in Weinstein and mediation.

“(Weinstein) played a very instrumental role,” Schaefer told ESPN.com immediately after the earlier disputes were resolved. “If not for him, I don't think we could have done this. He really took ownership of the case and understood how delicate it was.”

Said Arum, “Anybody who tells somebody not to use a mediator in this kind of situation is out of their mind. This guy was tremendous in getting both of us to realize how destructive our conduct was and how productive it would be to work together. You need a guy like that to mediate the dispute and see the broader picture.”

Three, Pacquiao and Mayweather don’t have immediate alternatives that compare to a fight against one another. They, through their handlers, have promised in anger to write off the fight and move on. Move on to what, though? Paulie Malignaggi? Yuri Foreman? Matthew Hatton?

That’s like passing on the Super Bowl and playing an exhibition game. Pacquiao and Mayweather need each other and they know it.

And, four, they’re already close to an agreement. Pacquiao seemed to be amenable to random blood testing as long as the sides agreed to a cutoff date that isn’t too close to the fight. Then, suddenly, the Pacquiao side declared that the Nevada State Athletic Commission would handle the testing ÔǪ end of discussion.

Guess what happened: End of discussion. Negotiations seemed to hit a wall at that point.

So here we are, in Weinstein’s capable hands. I believe he will zero in on the cutoff date for random testing and build a final agreement from there.

Of course, there are no guarantees mediation will work this time because egos have a way of overwhelming common sense.

For example, assuming the law suit is an obstacle to making the fight, Pacquiao will probably agree to drop it only if Mayweather and Co. publicly apologize for falsely suggesting that he has used performance-enhancing drugs. Mayweather and Co. would probably agree to do so in some form but we don’t know whether they would go far enough to satisfy Pacquiao.

And, who knows, maybe Pacquiao and Mayweather are too entrenched in their positions on random testing that they will fail to find common ground. Neither side wants to be seen as giving in, at least not to a great degree.

I don’t see that happening, though. Again, the fighters and their representatives have refused to give up on the fight through bitter negotiations and agreed to mediation for a reason — they want it to happen. And, frankly, I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t.

A celebration is just around the corner.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]

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