Mayweather vs. Cotto: Mayweather Must Score Knockout to Ensure Pacquiao Fight

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Mayweather vs. Cotto: Mayweather Must Score Knockout to Ensure Pacquiao Fight
Mayweather and Pacquiao before their proposed bout was cancelled.

The world wants the fight.  Promoters want the fight.  But do the proposed fighters really want the fight?

Speculation of a Mayweather/Pacquiao fight gained momentum when 35-year-old Floyd "Money" Mayweather publicly challenged 33-year-old Manny Pacquiao on Twitter.

A match between 43-0 Floyd Mayweather and 54-3-2 Manny Pacquiao would be a media dream.  One of Pacquiao's 54 wins came against Mayweather's May 5th opponent Miguel Cotto.  Pacquiao won the 2009 match in dominant fashion, knocking down the Puerto Rican fighter several times before winning by a technical knockout in Round 12, claiming the WBO Welterweight title and a record-setting seventh world title in different weight divisions.

The undefeated Mayweather, widely considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, recently brought up allegations of performance-enhancing drug use at Pacquiao, adding more fuel to the fire.  His evidence: New Era's fitted hat size chart.  The American pugilist passionately explained to Associated Press columnist and other sportswriters: "This man probably went from a seven and one-fourth to an eight. In a hat, a fitted hat. And you're going to tell me this (stuff) is all natural? Come on, man."

Meanwhile, Pacquiao, a member of the congress of the Philippines, is currently wrapped up in legal issues involving his former accounting firm and is focused on an early June bout with American brawler Timothy Bradley.

Shortly after Pacquiao's victory against Cotto, public demand grew for a fight between the Phillippine southpaw and the undefeated Mayweather.  The two agreed to a fight in 2010 until a disagreement over drug testing methods led to legal mediation and the fight ultimately being canceled.

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Both Pacquiao and his promoter, Bob Arum, agreed to blood and urine testing to eliminate any doubts of steroid or other performance-enhancing drug use when the two were scheduled to square off last year with certain stipulations.  Mayweather didn't agree with the stipulations, and Pacquiao's party called off the fight.

Pacquiao went on to win four subsequent fights, defending his WBO welterweight title three times and claiming the vacant WBC light middleweight title against the heavy-hitting Antonio Margarito.

After the Pacquiao fight fell through, Mayweather fought and beat Victor Ortiz in a controversial knockout.  He agreed to fight Cotto after Pacquiao remained relatively unresponsive to his public challenges to agree to another fight.

If Mayweather wants a fight with Pacquiao, he needs to beat Miguel Cotto in a convincing fashion.  A decisive victory leads to a scenario nearly necessitating a fight between "Money" Mayweather and "Pac Man" Pacquiao to prove who is in fact the best in the world.  Pacquiao managed to beat Cotto after 12 brutal rounds in 2009.

The biggest obstacle in securing a fight between the two legends is the boxers' egos.  Unless the two battle to a draw, the loser of the bout guarantees himself "second best" status for the rest of his career and post-retirement, while the winner firmly establishes himself as the best boxer in the world.

Neither fighter wants to risk his reputation.  The transparency of both Mayweather and Pacquiao's arguments is almost unbelievable.  "Money" won't fight without drug testing, and Pacquiao won't agree to drug testing, namely blood sampling, believing it will affect his fighting ability.  As Mayweather would say, "Come on, now."

ESPN's Stephen Smith and Skip Bayless discuss a potential Mayweather/Pacquiao fight.

There's no doubt a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao would determine who's the best.  A win by Pacquiao means the first loss of Mayweather's professional career, immediately destroying his unbeatable status.  A win by Mayweather confirms his invincibility and places him in conversation with the sport's legends.

Public pressure after a convincing Mayweather victory over Miguel Cotto might be enough to compel Pacquiao to agree to a bout between two legends.  An indecisive victory or a loss against Cotto simply gives Pacquiao another excuse to avoid touching gloves with Mayweather.

While Mayweather focuses on his fight tonight against Miguel Cotto and Pacquiao continues preparing to take on Timothy Bradley next month, there's no doubt the two will have the potential fight in the back of their minds.

Mayweather will have to enjoy the Pacquiao/Bradley fight (and potentially study his future opponent) from a Nevada correctional facility as the brawler is scheduled to report for a sentence of up to 90 days on June 1st.

There's more than Mayweather's undefeated record and Cotto's (Super) Light Middleweight title on the line in tonight's fight.  It is perhaps the final step in Pacquiao and Mayweather finally agreeing to prove who is the world's best pound-for-pound boxer.

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