LAS VEGAS, March 22- Unbeaten US boxer Floyd Mayweather will fight Filipino star Manny Pacquiao after all, although it will be a legal dispute after a federal judge denied a motion to dismiss the case on Monday.
Pacquiao filed a defamation lawsuit against Mayweather, among others, that US District Judge Larry Hicks ruled can proceed because there is sufficient evidence of malicious acts in accusing Pacquiao of being a dope cheat.
"The truth did not stop Mayweather and the others," Pacquiao’s lawsuit contends. "That is because they are motivated by ill will, spite, malice, revenge and envy."
"Mayweather and the others set out on a course designed to destroy Pacquiao’s career, reputation, honor and legacy and jeopardize his ability to earn the highest levels of compensation."
Pacquiao has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) but in the 2009 lawsuit he claims that Mayweather, his father Floyd Snr and uncle Roger, promoter Oscar de la Hoya and his employee, Richard Schaefer conducted a campaign in a set of interviews to make people think he used them.
"Defendants argue that Pacquiao has failed to sufficiently allege malice because defendants could not have known one way or the other whether Pacquiao had actually taken PEDs when they made the alleged defamatory statements," Hicks wrote in the order upholding the lawsuit.
"However, the court finds that Pacquiao has sufficiently pled malice in the amended complaint."
Unbeaten Mayweather and Pacquiao were in talks to stage a megafight between two of boxing’s biggest stars but negotiations collapsed over demands by Mayweather that both fighters have blood and urine tests up to 14 days before the bout.
Pacquiao said he would feel weakened by blood tests within 24 days of the fight and would not agree to tests any closer to a bout.
Mayweather Promotions attorney Mark Tratos said he would continue to push for dismissal of the case, saying comments at the time were made about Pacquiao’s hesitancy regarding blood tests and did not claim he was a dope cheat.
Pacquiao attorney Dan Petrocelli said his client’s career would suffer major damage if fans believed he used banned substances.
"Manny has an unblemished reputation and has earned all of his achievements through hard work and his natural-born talent and to call him a cheater is something he cannot and will not tolerate," Petrocelli said.
"None of these defendants have had any evidence to back up the assertion that he has taken performance-enhancing drugs because he didn’t."
Mayweather, 34, faces an April 25 trial date on a battery charge over an altercation with a security guard for his homeowners association, who claims Mayweather poked him during a November argument regarding cars parking outside Mayweather’s home.
Mayweather also faces a court hearing on April 28 on domestic violence charges that could send the fighter to prison for up to 34 years in prison if convicted of all charges, which include felony counts of grand larceny, coercion and robbery.
Mayweather is accused of striking and threatening former girlfriend Josie Harris, stealing her mobile phone and threatening two of their children in an incident on September 9.
Boxing fans have hoped that Mayweather, 41-0 with 25 career knockouts, would fight Pacquiao but Mayweather’s legal woes have put such talk on hold.
Pacquiao, 52-3 with two draws and 38 knockouts and a winner of 13 fights in a row in the past six years, is set to face 39-year-old US fighter Shane Mosley, 46-6 with one draw and 39 knockouts, on May 7 in Las Vegas.