An unidentified gray-haired doctor walks into an office of the San Pedro Medical Center in Los Angeles, where Filipino boxing star Manny Pacquiao and his adviser, Michael Koncz, are awaiting the athlete's mandatory pre-fight physical.
Just over 14 minutes into Episode 3 of HBO's 24/7 series promoting Pacquiao's eventual second-round knockout of Ricky Hatton in May, the scene is described as "inescapable and tedious" by the narrator.
A closeup is shown of Pacquiao's left arm, into which a needle is deeply driven as the narrator tells viewers, "Blood is drawn, questions are asked." Later, the small glass cylinder containing Pacquiao's blood is in full view, held by the doctor as he scribbles notes onto a document.
Pacquaio is given "a clean bill of health across the board," as he leaves the office, a small cotton ball bandaged over the crook in his left arm being the only evidence of his visit.
The next day, in the 119-degree heat of the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, Pacquiao is a blur of athleticism, firing blistering combinations at an imaginary opponent, the speed bag, the double-end bag, and the practice mitts of trainer Freddie Roach.
"The fight," says the narrator, "is seven days away."
The scene goes to the heart of a drug-testing controversy that has caused a negotiations impasse for the principles involved in a potential blockbuster matchup between Pacquiao (50-3-2, 38 knockouts) and Floyd Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) that is tentatively slated for March 13 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The camp of Mayweather, a five-time world champion, is demanding that both fighters be tested using random urinalysis and blood work that could be drawn as close to the fight as possible.
A seven-division champion who dethroned Miguel Cotto for the WBO welterweight title last month, Pacquiao is OK with having urine tests done, but has argued that he would prefer not to have blood drawn within 30 days of the fight because taking blood from him that close to the competition would weaken him.
Neither Pacquiao's promoter, CEO Bob Arum of Top Rank, nor Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, who is working on Mayweather's behalf, could be reached for comment.
But a statement issued by Golden Boy and Mayweather Promotions on Monday targeted the hospital scene as a potential contradiction by Pacquiao.
"The truth is taking blood out of my body does not seem natural to me, and mentally I feel it will weaken me if blood is taken from me just days before the fight," the statement quotes Pacquiao as saying on his Web site.
"Or he is 'afraid of needles' and does not feel comfortable with blood being taken closer than 30 days before the fight is another interesting point," reads the statement. "The fact is that he did have blood taken just 14 days prior to his fight with Ricky Hatton, an event which was documented on HBO's 24/7 reality show."
Arum told FanHouse on Monday afternoon that he was preparing to move beyond Mayweather and name another opponent as early as Tuesday morning, possibly junior welterweight star Paulie Malignaggi (27-3, five KOs) or WBA junior middleweight champion Yuri Foreman (28-0, eight KOs).
But Arum has apparently changed his mind, and has indicated that he may try to talk to Pacquiao in an attempt to salvage the Mayweather bout.
"I will transmit it [word of Pacquiao's '24/7' test] to Manny once [HBO Sports president] Ross Greenburg establishes the actual date of the test in '24/7' and [the Mayweather camp] makes a proposal based on what Ross has come up with. If that happens, I am sure I can convince Manny to tighten the testing window," Arum told ESPN.com's Dan Rafael.
"It's a very good point to point out that Manny was tested so close to the [Hatton] fight. I'm not going to suggest anything to him though until I hear from the other guys. They have to say, 'This is what Manny did. Here is what we propose,' " said Arum, referring to Mayweather's team.
"Then I will bring it to Manny and say, 'Manny, look, you took this test however many days before the fight and it didn't affect you. Hey, you knocked him out in two rounds,' " said Arum. "What will Manny do? I assume he will listen to me, but I can't promise anything. But I want [Mayweather's camp] to make a formal proposal that this is the outside date for the blood-testing based on Manny's prior test in 24/7 and then I will move mountains."
Mayweather's adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, said earlier yesterday that he still believed a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight could come to fruition.
"I can't imagine Manny Pacquiao walking away from $25 million because he refuses to have blood and urine drawn, and then going off to do something else and making half of that," said Ellerbe. "The clock is ticking, but I think that Manny Pacquiao will eventually step up and take the test."