Fight night: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao - in court

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Fight night: Mayweather vs. Pacquiao - in court

LAS VEGAS - Unbeaten U.S. boxer Floyd Mayweather will fight Filipino star Manny Pacquiao after all, although this time it will be a legal dispute after a federal judge denied a motion to dismiss the case on Monday.

Pacquiao filed a defamation lawsuit, among others, against Mayweather that U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks ruled can proceed because there is sufficient evidence of malicious acts in accusing Pacquiao of being a drug 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.”

Pacquiao has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) but in the 2009 lawsuit he claims that Mayweather, his uncle, father Floyd Sr., 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,” said Hicks.

Mayweather and Pacquiao were in talks to stage a mega-fight 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 drug 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.

Mayweather, 34, also faces an April 25 trial date on a battery charge over an altercation with a security guard and a court hearing on April 28 on domestic violence charges that could send the fighter to prison for up to 34 years.

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