LAS VEGAS, December 31- Manny Pacquiao is fighting mad, and taking on Floyd Mayweather jnr in court even as a potential blockbuster bout between the two is on the ropes.Filipino hero Pacquiao filed a lawsuit in federal court in Las Vegas on Wednesday alleging that Mayweather and others defamed him by falsely saying Pacquiao used performance-enhancing drugs.
"Calling a professional athlete a cheater is the most serious charge one can make," the lawsuit says, "and in today’s world, accusing an athlete of using performance-enhancing drugs – however baseless and lacking in evidence – is toxic."
Pacquiao has been angered by the Mayweather camp’s insistence on doping control blood tests in the buildup to their welterweight showdown – a demand that has the March 13 fight in doubt.
Mayweather has said the blood tests, which could detect substances not found by urine tests, are vital to ensure a fair fight, although blood tests are not routinely used in boxing.
Pacquiao – who says he fears having blood drawn less than 30 days before the fight would ‘weaken’ him – has taken exception to the demand and to comments made by the Mayweather camp in media interviews.
His lawsuit asks for damages in excess of 75,000 dollars and names Mayweather, his father, Floyd snr, and uncle Roger Mayweather as defendants. Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer, who operate Golden Boy Promotions and are promoting Mayweather, are also named as having "stated publicly that Pacquiao has used and is using performance-enhancing drugs, including steroids."
The lawsuit cites several interviews given by the Mayweather camp, including the unbeaten US boxer’s comments in a radio interview in October about Pacquiao’s physical development, when he said: "cause we know the Philippines got the best enhancing drugs."
Also quoted in the suit were Mayweather’s remarks published in the british newspaper The Guardian, in which Mayweather said he had "great doubt as to the level of fairness I would be facing in the ring that night."
"The truth did not stop Mayweather and the others," the suit alleges. "That is because they are motivated by ill will, spite, malice, revenge and envy."
Pacquiao, who has supplanted Mayweather in the estimation of many as boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighter, has earned titles in seven weight classes.
Their fight could bring each as much as 40 million dollars, and it had appeared to be virtually set after squabbles were settled over issues including the division of the purse and the type of gloves to be used.
The dope test procedures, however, have proved a sticking point.
The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum is preparing to open negotiations with World Boxing Association super welterweight champion Yuri Foreman as talks with Mayweather falter.
Arum, contacted by the newspaper while on vacation in Mexico, sounded pessimistic that Pacquaio-Mayweather would happen on March 13.
"This is only my opinion, but I don’t see the fight happening now," he told the Times. "Positions are hardening … Manny’s fit to be tied. He’s very angry."
Arum acknowledged there could still be a breakthrough, but said: "It might be best to visit this fight later in 2010."