On paper, Floyd Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers of all time. But without a fight against the second-best fighter of his generation, Manny Pacquiao, his legacy will always be tarnished.
Mayweather sports a perfect 43-0 record; he's won eight world titles and has been rated as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world on multiple occasions over the years.
He's also got the personality that boxing fans love to hate. He's as cocky as they come, talks more smack than a cheeky seventh grader and his defensive style often leaves fans clamoring for more.
If that wasn't enough, he's a walking, talking prime-time news controversy.
Mayweather has gotten in trouble by opening his mouth more times than can be counted, been to jail after pleading guilty to a reduced battery domestic violence charge and it was only a few matches ago where he won his fight with a much contested, borderline cheap shot on Victor Ortiz.
He's the type of hype-active personality that boxing has always attached itself to. And when you couple that with his perfect record, he should be in the argument for greatest boxer of all time.
However, one thing is missing from his resume, a fight with Pacquiao.
Manny Pacquiao, the great Pilipino, is seemingly the antithesis of Mayweather.
He's soft spoken, well respected in his native Philippines, where he's a member of Congress, and exciting in the ring with his heavy-handed, take a punch to deliver one style.
Pacquiao is also one of the most beloved boxers of his generation.
He's jumped from weight class to weight class and has won 10 world titles, all the while taking on any and all challengers. Well, all except Mayweather.
And therein lies the problem. The two most popular, and beloved boxers on the planet won't fight each other—the amount of backtracking, pressuring and berating that has gone in these failed negotiations is just too much to sum up in a few lines—and it doesn't look like they're any closer to inking a deal to step in the ring.
However, Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum mentioned in August that spring of 2013 would be an excellent window to fit the mega fight.
If that date doesn't result in a bout, however, the pair will likely never touch gloves in the center of the ring.
Both fighters are getting up there in years, especially in boxing terms. Mayweather is 35 and has already retired once. Pacquiao is 33 and is seemingly focused on a full-time political career in the near future.
But for Mayweather's sake, he better hope the stars align to get this fight done.
Without it, he will always be undefeated—no one else has the skill to touch him other than Pacquiao—but fans will always remember him for the fight that wasn't instead of the 43 that were.
In order to be the best, you have to beat the best, and that's something Mayweather has to remember.
All of the greats have battled rivals, and some, including Muhammad Ali, have been beaten. But those were the bouts that defined their legacies.
Mayweather just doesn't have that.
He may retire undefeated, but without a fight with Pacquiao, Mayweather's zero in the loss column will look especially empty.