Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez have yet to agree to turn their epic fight series into a quintet. However, until they square off for that fifth bout, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. should continue with his current course and avoid fighting his heated rival.
While there is some sense that Mayweather should kick Pacquiao while he's down and prove once and for all he's the best fighter in the world, that would be a massive mistake on his part.
By knocking out Pacquiao in the sixth round on Dec. 8, Marquez siphoned all the possible excitement out of a potential Mayweather-Pacquiao bout. For many, Marquez proved something they had feared for a while now: Pac-Man is no longer the same fighter. He no longer packs quite the same power in his punches, nor does he seem fully invested in the sport.
Pacquiao's own wife has publicly said she wants him to retire, according to USA Today's Jon Saraceno. That seems unlikely to happen at this point, but the damage to his reputation has been done.
Until Pacquiao comes back and defeats Marquez handily, those retirement and skill-set worries will linger.
And, for Mayweather, that leaves no benefit in fighting Pacquiao. The allure from financial and boxing standpoints came from the two most revered boxers of this era finally stepping inside the ring against one another after years of empty trash talk.
If the Filipino star isn't recognized alongside Mayweather as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world anymore, what's the point of the two fighting? Money May already earns $45 million for relatively easy wins, so it's not like his earning potential would be much higher against this version of Pacquiao.
Lest we forget that we're not exactly talking about prime Mayweather, either.
Mayweather is a man whose time since his last fight has been spent inside a jail cell and having innocuous Twitter beefs with 50 Cent. This isn't exactly the same boxer who peppered Marquez into submission in 2009 or even the guy who skated to victory over Miguel Cotto back in May.
Call me pessimistic, but a rusty Mayweather taking on a struggling Pacquiao may not be the best way to fulfill the years of hype.
Instead, Mayweather should hope and pray that Pacquiao takes on Marquez for a fifth time, looks rejuvenated inside the ring and vanquishes his rival. A return to greatness from Pacquiao would help resurrect the excitement surrounding a story that many have become exhausted by.
In the meantime, Mayweather's focus should lie directly on getting the ring rust off against his next non-Pacquiao opponent. As for whom that should be, Roger Mayweather told RingTV that Timothy Bradley could be in the offing:
I would rather for my nephew to fight Timothy Bradley. I want that fight because that's the last guy that has a win over Pacquiao. That's who I want to see him fight. I think it's possible...I know a fight with Bradley is possible because me and [Arum] talked before. That's the key about boxing.
Boom. Perfect. By fighting Bradley, Mayweather jumps into the ring with a man many now see as elite, while allowing the Pacquiao and Marquez to finally conclude their series. Those bouts, if done within a month of one another, would ostensibly act as a tournament where the two winners would fight later in the year.
If Mayweather and Pacquiao win, rev your hype machines back up, folks. If one loses, however, perhaps it's time for boxing fans to finally move on and realize the potential "superfight" was doomed from the start.
Either way, Mayweather is now the undisputed best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. Until Pacquiao gets back into that conversation with a victory against Marquez, there's no reason for the Money Team to do anything other than rake in the easy dollars and wins.