Now that we know that Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be fighting Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto on May 5 and that Manny Pacquiao will be taking on undefeated junior welterweight star Timothy Bradley on June 9 the entire online boxing universe can speculate on whether the long awaited super-fight between Money May and Pacman will finally take place sometime late in 2012.
Maybe I've just been watching this all develop and unravel and develop and unravel again for too long and have grown cynical. But I just don't see it happening in 2012.
And if it doesn't happen in 2012, maybe it doesn't happen. Both men are at the point in their careers where letting another year go by without getting the fight made makes it increasingly unlikely to ever happen at all.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. was originally scheduled to begin a three-month jail sentence starting on Jan. 6 of this year. He was able to get that pushed back so that he could honor his commitment to fight on May 5.
But less than a month after he meets Miguel Cotto in Vegas, he will turn himself over to the authorities and begin serving time.
Even if Mayweather gets out a month early for good behavior, that still keeps him in lock up until the start of August. He would need to go almost instantly into intensive training to be ready for Pacquiao before the end of the year.
I just don't think Mayweather is going to want to do that. I'll never go along with the Mayweather haters/Pacman fanboys who straight up accuse the undefeated Flint, Mich.,native of being scared of Pacquiao.
But Mayweather understands the risk that the Filipino Congressman represents, and I doubt he will want to meet him in anything but ideal circumstances.
Mayweather won't be doing "hard time." But he will be on lock down and answerable to authority around the clock for at least two months.
That is not going to be easy for an extremely rich and proud athlete like Pretty Boy Floyd. Given his tendency to become inactive for chunks of time in recent years, I wouldn't be surprised if he takes the rest of the year off after he is released.
If he does fight, I think it will be somebody like Saul Alvarez, a popular star who will generate a huge gate but probably won't really threaten Mayweather in the ring.
I expect Mayweather will be back on twitter, calling Pacquiao out and bragging about his six figure NCAA bets. But when it comes to actual negotiating, I expect he'll be difficult to deal with, making the sort of demands that he knows Pacquiao won't accept.
Part of the reason Pacquiao-Mayweather has captured the imagination not just in the States but across the entire world is because of the way both men set up against each other as perfect dramatic foils.
Swaggering, smack-talking, hundred-dollar bill burning Mayweather represents the American Dream in all its grandeur and garish tawdriness. Soft-spoken Pacquiao is an inspiration to downtrodden masses all across the globe, a perfect Horatio Alger story who remains likable and modest to the end.
At the same time, Pacquiao often seems too deferential towards authority, whether it be his promoter Bob Arum, his political mentors or even the Catholic Church. Mayweather's determination to say whatever he likes and handle his own business can actually be refreshing in contrast.
There was a lot of excitement last Jan. 20 when ESPN reported that Mayweather and Pacquiao had spoken on the phone. But nothing fruitful seems to have come of the exchange and the sticking point that seems to have emerged in the call will remain an obstacle for as long as Mayweather insists on it:
"I called him and asked him about us fighting May 5 and giving the World what they want to see," Mayweather's email read. "I also let him know we both can make a lot of money. He ask about a 50/50 split and I told him no, that can't happen, but what can happen is you can make more money fighting me then you have made in your career. I also let him know I'm in control on my side but he needs to get on the same page with his promoter so we can make this fight happen."
In other words, Mayweather wants to treat Pacquiao like an "opponent." He'll guarantee him a huge payday, but it will be Mayweather's show and he will get the major PPV profits.
Pacquiao may be humble and modest, soft-spoken and careful about what he says. But he has as much pride as any man, and there's no way he will stand for Mayweather's high-handed treatment.
He shouldn't. Pacquiao is No. 1 on at least as many media pound-for-pound lists as Mayweather is. He's No. 1 on The Ring's list, probably the closest thing the sport has to a truly authoritative ranking.
Pacquiao is at least as big of a star as Mayweather is, and Mayweather knows it. I am inclined to think Mayweather's early direct offers to Pacman are as much designed to jerk with Bob Arum as anything else, which brings me to my final point.
One statement I read and hear a lot from boxing fans is "But this fight has to happen. There's just too much money to be made."
But for Manny Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, the situation is a bit more complicated. He has no promotional relationship with Mayweather, and to the degree that the two have any relationship at all, it is hostile.
If Arum has to promote a fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather, it means working together and negotiating control with a promotional team I heard him say as recently as a Madison Square Garden press conference last October that he doesn't believe he can work with.
I'm not sure Arum would even make more money on a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight than he does when he matches Pacman with another one of his fighters, as he is doing with Timothy Bradley in June.
He certainly takes more of a potential risk matching Pacquiao with Mayweather. Arum can talk all he wants about Pacquiao knocking out Mayweather in four or five rounds, but he knows very well that the danger exists for Mayweather to expose Pacquiao and seriously compromise the Filipino sensation's ability to generate PPV revenue going forward.
From strictly a business standpoint, it probably makes more sense for Arum to keep making fights for Pacquiao with opponents like Timothy Bradley. That way, even if Pacquiao gets upset, it's an Arum fighter who did it, allowing Top Rank to then focus on the sport's next big thing.