Super-fight? Super farce
There are reasons why boxing is the only sport that consistently translates into great art, and they are the same reasons it is viewed with suspicion by many modern sports fans.
The boxing world is dark, dangerous and amoral, the sporting equivalent of the Wild West: no-one seems to know who's in charge, and many seem not to care. This apparently lawless environment froths with characters living by their own laws, while those in the civilised and sanitised world avert their gaze, genuinely amazed that such chicanery still goes on.
Some will doubtless accuse me of overstating my case in a fit of journalistic hysteria, but they will be those who haven't been following the unravelling story of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao, the Fight of the Century that might never happen.
Paulie Malignaggi (right), who was battered by Ricky Hatton last year, could be next for Pacquiao, while Hatton's younger brother Matthew could face Mayweather. Excited?
When negotiations for the fight came grinding to a halt two days before Christmas, I laid much of the blame at the door of Mayweather, who was insisting Philippines legend Pacquiao be subjected to random drug testing in the lead-up to the fight, which had been slated for 13 March, probably in Las Vegas.
My belief was that Mayweather was grandstanding, attempting to score psychological points, and that Pacquiao would soon put his pride aside and agree to play ball. In short, I thought Mayweather and his camp were just playing silly beggars.
Now, however, it is Pacquiao's reputation that is in the spotlight, whether he's guilty of any wrongdoing or not. Why, fans are asking, doesn't he just take the tests?
"I will provide any specimen, whether it be blood or urine samples, just right after the fight, but not a day or two before, for obvious reasons," fired back a furious Pacquiao. Problem is, Manny, the reasons aren't obvious at all.
Travis Tygart, the chief of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, who Mayweather's camp wants to oversee the testing, told the New York Times that not being blood tested in the 30 days prior to the fight, as Pacquiao is insisting on, "is totally unacceptable".
Tygart claimed "it would provide a huge loophole for a cheater to step through," before pointing out that basketball star Kobe Bryant and swimming great Michael Phelps have both undergone random testing of this type. If it's good enough for Bryant and Phelps, why not Pacquiao?
Meanwhile, the sheriffs in Mayweather's camp have been tying themselves up in knots with contradictory statements.
Head of Golden Boy promotions Richard Schaefer, whose outfit is representing Mayweather, has been nagging in his insistence that Pacquiao agree to random testing, yet it has emerged that Schaefer turned down Zab Judah's request for additional testing before his scheduled fight with Shane Mosley in 2008.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Schaefer said Mosley would not agree to "other tests than the Nevada [Athletic] Commission requires. The fact is Shane is not a cheater and he does not need to be treated like one". So, pretty much what Pacquiao is saying now then.
Mosley, it should also be noted, has admitted to unwittingly using illegal substances in the past.
There's the intrigue, now for the comedy. If the fight does fall through, Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum has suggested his man will fight New Yorker Paulie Malignaggi instead.
This is the same Paulie Malignaggi who was torn to shreds by Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas last year, and the same Paulie Malignaggi who, following Pacquiao's savage destruction of Miguel Cotto last month, hinted in a raft of interviews that Pacquiao's rise through the weight divisions has been fuelled by performance-enhancing drugs.
Meanwhile, Hatton's younger brother Matthew, who has never even fought for a British title, has confirmed his representatives are in talks to fight Mayweather in the UK if the Pacquiao bout falls through.
"At first I thought it was a wind-up when my name was mentioned for Mayweather," said Hatton, echoing the thoughts of just about everyone else. A rematch with his older brother would have been a tough enough sell.
Matthew Hatton is a very respectable domestic fighter, but as far as Mayweather is concerned, it's the equivalent passing on a Beverly Hills date with Angelina Jolie and plumping for pie and mash with some actress off Eastenders instead.
Enough of the intrigue and the comedy, now for the tragedy. While the big shots are trashing the place, digging their spurs in and waving their pieces around with scant regard for the consequences, it's the poor saps who love boxing who are suffering.
There have been signs in recent years that those who run the sport are getting their act together, have finally realised that only by regularly matching the best against the best will boxing regain a foothold in the public consciousness.
To his credit, Pacquiao, who has ducked no-one, has been at the forefront of this revival, so too Mayweather, although to a lesser extent.
But if they are unable to put aside their differences and make this fight happen, there's a danger they'll be remembered by many for the wrong reason - not as the men who saved boxing, but as the men who turned their backs when boxing needed them most.
As I write, news reaches me that Pacquiao has filed a lawsuit alleging that Mayweather and others have falsely accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs. From super-fight to super farce, whatever happens between Mayweather and Pacquiao in court, millions will find boxing guilty.