Hopes of salvaging the hotly anticipated fight between Manny Pacquiao and American Floyd Mayweather Jr. were dealt another blow yesterday when the Filipino filed a lawsuit against his opponent.
Pacquiao has sued Mayweather, the American's father Floyd Sr., his uncle Roger and Golden Boy Promotions for falsely accusing him of using performance-enhancing drugs.
The suit, filed in a federal court in Las Vegas, asks for damages in excess of $75,000, plus punitive damages. Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Shaefer, who operate Golden Boy Promotions and are promoting Mayweather, were also named as defendants.
"Mr. Pacquiao simply could not allow these false, reckless and malicious statements to go unanswered," Pacquiao's attorney Daniel Petrocelli told Reuters.
"He had no choice but to file this law suit to protect his good name and reputation which has been earned after years and years of hard work.
"Whether or not the fight goes forward, whoever he fights next, he's not going to sit by and let people publicly accuse him of being a cheater. There is absolutely no basis for such statements to be made about him."
"The $75,000 figure is simply the minimum that one has to allege in order to sue in federal court," Petrocelli added. "The damages in this case for Pacquiao's reputation are in the tens of millions of dollars, not including punitive damages."
Last week, Pacquiao said he had run out of patience.
"Enough is enough," he told his website (http://www.mpboxing.com). "These people, Mayweather Sr., Jr., and Golden Boy Promotions, think it is a joke and a right to accuse someone wrongly of using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.
"I maintain and assure everyone that I have not used any form or kind of steroids and that my way to the top is a result of hard work, hard work, hard work and a lot of blood spilled from my past battles in the ring, not outside of it.
"I have no idea what steroids look like and my fear in God has kept me safe and victorious through all these years," added the 31-year-old Filipino who has never tested positive.
The WBO welterweight title bout had already been thrown into doubt when Mayweather demanded Olympic-style dope testing, a request rejected by Pacquiao.
Mayweather's camp had called for random blood and urine sampling prior to and after the March 13 fight as mandated by the U.S. Anti Doping Agency.
Pacquiao agreed to have blood taken for testing before the initial media conference and immediately after the fight but would not agree to have blood drawn within 30 days of the bout.
On Monday, Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum said he would announce a new opponent for the world champion but just hours later he backtracked, saying he would ask the boxer to reconsider his objection to blood testing.
Pacquiao (50-3-2) is scheduled to defend the World Boxing Organisation title he won in November by stopping holder Miguel Cotto in the 12th round in Las Vegas.
Pacquiao won an unprecedented seventh title in seven weight classes to set up the best pound-for-pound showdown against unbeaten Mayweather (40-0) in what was expected to be among boxing's biggest revenue-producing fights.