REMEMBER WHEN BOXERS would agree to a fight, show up, beat the hell of each other, collect a lot of money and go home?

Apparently those days are over. At least they are for Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

These two pugs are either ring-savvy public-relations experts or punch-drunk idiots.

Lately, we've been leaning toward the latter.

The two are/were scheduled to make boxing history with a March 13 megafight expected to take place in Las Vegas in which they would split $80 million.

Then the Mayweather camp insisted random, Olympic-style drug testing be used, even though neither fighter has a history of using performance-enhancing substances.

At first, Pacquiao made a counter proposal: He would undergo urine and blood testing up until 2 days before the fight. The reason? Pacquiao apparently believes giving blood too close to a bout would weaken him.

Over the last week, accusations have flown faster than left hooks. Before anyone knew it, the fight was off and Pacquiao was threatening to sue Mayweather for wrongly accusing him "of using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs."

Yesterday, promoter Bob Arum, who represents Pacquiao, put forth a plan he hopes will stimulate a bout-saving solution.

Arum wants the Nevada Athletic Commission to have the final say on how much testing there would be, and when it would be administered. Arum said there would be three blood tests, but none within a month of the fight unless the commission deemed it necessary at meeting scheduled for mid-January.

"We will go along with what the Nevada commission decides. We will give them a blank check," Arum said. "We want this fight to go forward."

According to Arum, Pacquiao will not compromise on the proposed plan. Arum said if Mayweather doesn't agree, he will begin negotiations for a Pacquiao vs. Paul Malignaggi bout instead.

Mayweather's camp did not return phone calls from the Associated Press yesterday.

Call us crazy, but we have an idea. How about they settle this the way they used to in the old days - in the ring?

- Tom Mahon

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