In a boxing utopia, Floyd Mayweather would have fought Manny Pacquiao two or three years ago. Since rumors, discussions and speculation became rampant regarding their proposed mega-fight, Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs) and Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) have been joined at the hip in one of boxing’s most petulant negotiation sagas.
One June 9, Timothy Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs) created yet another obstacle in the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight plans by being gifted a split decision in a fight where, despite showing tremendous heart and resolve, Bradley was soundly outboxed.
Nevertheless, the Pacquiao-Bradley verdict is formally etched in boxing’s annals as a Bradley victory despite the post-fight outrage and the WBO’s investigative committee that reviewed the fight and determined Pacquiao to be the true winner.
Given that Mayweather and Pacquiao are supposed to fight, shouldn’t conventional wisdom dictate that it is now up to “Money” to defeat the man who beat the man? Shouldn’t Bradley become Mayweather’s logical opponent because he—at least officially—bested Pacquiao in their fight?
Not so fast. It would be shocking if Floyd Mayweather decided to fight Timothy Bradley, especially considering Mayweather’s current layoff is being spent idling in prison. While Mayweather isn’t afraid of Bradley inside the ring, it is the external factors and promotion that will have “Money” avoiding this fight at all costs.
Let’s look at the external factors that will have Mayweather avoiding Bradley at all costs.
The Promotion Wouldn’t be About Mayweather-Bradley
Mayweather and Pacquiao are constantly asked about fighting each other during promotions leading up to fights against other opponents. While this might seem disrespectful to the opponent in question, such is the reality when boxing’s two most talented and marketable superstars are campaigning in roughly the same weight division yet refuse to fight each other.
The main difference is that while Mayweather and Pacquiao are always being asked about each other, they still remain the central focus of their respective promotions when building towards a fight. When Mayweather and Pacquiao fight, they are the center of attention, and the possibility of their hypothetical matchup becomes entertaining background noise.
If Mayweather and Bradley fought, that would all change.
In thinking about the promotional build-up to a proposed Mayweather-Bradley fight, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where Manny Pacquiao doesn’t become the focal point of media questions and general coverage.
Bradley, undoubtedly, would be forced to answer an endless slew of questions on the Pacquiao decision and the fact that a rematch never took place. The fight will be seen as a sham because reporters and fans will question whether Bradley deserved the Mayweather fight considering that Pacquiao—realistically—soundly defeated him.
This, as you might imagine, would frustrate Mayweather. Few athletes in sports require as much attention as “Money," and it would surely be bothersome to have to answer a constant stream of questions about the Pacquiao-Bradley fight on top of dealing with probes into his (Mayweather’s) consistent refusal to peaceably negotiate with Pacquiao.
In other words, Mayweather, for once, wouldn’t be the center of attention. Pacquiao would be the absent star of a Mayweather-Bradley promotion, and Floyd most certainly wants nothing to do with that.
A Lose-Lose Situation
If a Mayweather-Bradley fight were to get made, Pacquiao would instantly become the promotion’s martyr—the gallant warrior who was dealt an unjust hand. Playing up this angle would be an effective tool to grease the possibility of a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, but the reality is that Pacquiao-sympathy only further contributes to Mayweather’s mercurial reputation.
Mayweather would naturally be a heavy favorite against Bradley. If Mayweather defeated Bradley, say, by lopsided decision, he would be seen as a mercenary figure who swept in and—officially—got the verdict that was rightfully Pacquiao’s.
Furthermore, while Bradley is still an excellent young fighter, Mayweather would not increase his prestige or standing in boxing’s pantheon by beating a fighter who has unfortunately, due to no fault of his own, become unpopular with certain fans. The only fight that will enhance Mayweather’s legacy, at this point, is the Pacquiao showdown.
It is here where the possibility of an upset rears its ugly head for Mayweather. Should he lose legitimately against Bradley, Mayweather’s reputation and stock would take a serious tumble. A loss to Bradley would also embolden writers and fans to suggest that Pacquiao was superior to Mayweather all along.
When speaking of a lose-lose situation for Floyd Mayweather, it seems appropriate to end with money. While Bradley gained tremendous exposure through the Pacquiao fight, the unpopular decision renders his future earning power unclear. People will certainly be curious to see what Bradley’s next move is, but he could also experience a backlash from fans who were soured by his controversial win over Pacquiao.
Mayweather will make money regardless of whom he fights. But with all the external risks that come with fighting Bradley, and the prospect of earning more against a less dangerous opponent, expect Mayweather to duck a Bradley fight, even if he knows that he’d likely win by comfortable margins.