What are the chances we'll ever see Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather in the ring together, and furthermore, how many boxing fans still care?
There is no doubt the pairing that once seemed like the dream fight has lost some of its luster with Pacquiao riding a two-fight losing streak. But at the end of the day, Mayweather and Pacquiao are still the two biggest names in the sport.
As of June 2012, the two superstars of the sport were No. 1 and 2 respectively on the Forbes' highest-paid athletes list. No other boxer is even in the top 20.
Though still slim, the chances that we could actually see Money and Pac-Man clash could be increasing.
BBC Sports reported that Pacquiao is in ongoing talks to fight Juan Manuel Marquez for a fifth time in September. If Pacquiao wins this bout and continues his career, there is no doubt talk of a fight with Mayweather will heat up again.
If he were to decide to rematch and defeat Timothy Bradley in the next four to six months, the talk would go to another level.
Mayweather recently signed a deal that could see him fight up to six times in two years with Showtime and CBS, per ESPN. The first of the bouts will take place on May 4 when he battles Robert Guerrero.
It only makes sense to think that Money will be trying to maximize his earning potential in those fights.
He's 36 years old, so it is hard to imagine him fighting beyond this deal. If Pacquiao is able to redeem himself in the eyes of boxing fans again, there will again be no fight with more earning potential than a bout with Pacquiao.
There are a ton of variables in this scenario, though.
Pacquiao defeating Marquez is far from a foregone conclusion. After suffering such a brutal knockout, there is no telling what kind of fighter he will be after a long layoff and a potentially crushing blow to his psyche.
He is 34 years old, and even without the two recent losses, it is time for a decline.
Though Mayweather hasn't shown as much fall-off as Pacquiao, he has been a little easier to hit in recent bouts. He is also coming off a long layoff due to a jail sentence, per ESPN.
Guerrero is no push-over, and though I favor Mayweather to win, it is not an open-and-shut case in my eyes.
Which event is least likely to happen?
Beyond all the in-ring conditions, the two promotional sides still have to put their differences aside to work together for a huge financial gain. As long as Pacquiao is promoted by Bob Arum, this will be a major sticking point because of the bad blood between he and Mayweather.
The two have a long and bitter history. Dan Rafael of ESPN says Arum is to blame for the most recent near-miss agreement for the two future Hall of Famers to fight.
One could assume that Mayweather presumably sees the end of both he and Pacquiao's career in sight, and Arum sees the last opportunities to cash in on his biggest money ticket.
The reality of the dynamic could create a sense of urgency in both parties.
While I wouldn't put money on all the chips falling in to place just yet, things look far more promising on this front than they did when Pacquiao was lying face down on the mat and Mayweather was incarcerated.
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