What started as a dream has now turned into a nightmare for boxing fans.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have been tossed around as potential opponents for quite some time now, holding boxing fans hostage because of the speed, power and talent that would be on display in the ring.
The back-and-forth between the two champions has led to a myriad of will-they or won't-they scenarios for the better half of the last four years, and we are no closer to seeing this fight than we were when chatter first began.
It's time for boxing fans, and casual sports fans everywhere, to give up the pipe dream of ever seeing a Pac-Man/Money Team clash.
For starters, the negotiations between the two men and their promoters has really transcended the actual fight. As Golden Boy and Top Rank square off to secure the maximum amount of money, drug-testing rights and marketability for their respective fighters, we've lost the actual luster of what a proposed fight was actually supposed to contain—a 12-round fight to crown boxing's greatest star of this era.
There's little doubt that the two men in question are deserving of such a crown.
Bursting on the scene as a young professional fighter back in 1996, Mayweather has been undefeated in 43 professional career fights. He's withstood the pressure from big names and dominated those who stood in his way, earning boxing lore and the title of one of the world's best for quite some time.
Pacquiao has risen to fame in a more steady manner than Mayweather, but that does not make his accomplishments any less worthy of this caliber of a fight.
After losing to Erik Morales from a unanimous decision back in 2005, Pacquiao made his mark on boxing. He wouldn't lose again over his next 15 fights, beating huge names like Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey and Shane Mosely and avenging his loss to Morales—twice.
In the process, he climbed up the pound-for-pound ranks, and was the No. 1 contender to hand Mayweather his first-ever loss before we could all blink. With the ball in Mayweather's court and Pacquiao fresh off a win over Cotto in the winter of 2009, it looked like this dream match was coming our way in the early part of 2010.
Then everything fell apart.
Blame it on egos, greed, one fighter ducking the other or whatever factor puts you to sleep at night, but issues with drug testing and the reported purse continued to push this fight under the rug.
When it looked like the fight was a go, issues with Mayweather's camp accusing Pacquiao (who has never failed a drug test in his career) of using performance-enhancing drugs insulted promoter Bob Arum and Top Rank enough to call off the fight (h/t ESPN).
The two men continued to clash as different opponents kept coming, and neither fighter batted an eye as opponents continued to challenge, and lose, fights against the two. Chatter would then pick back up as each prepared for a new fight, characterized by a 2011 interview in which Mayweather sat down with Lem Satterfield of The Ring to talk about how Pacquiao was dodging a drug test and the chance to face the champ.
Mayweather then heated things up again in January of 2012, publicly calling out Pacquiao on Twitter for a May 5 fight that ended up being Mayweather's last opponent before prison—Miguel Cotto:
Manny Pacquiao I'm calling you out let's fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see.— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) January 10, 2012
Then in the summer of 2012, everything changed.
A routine bout against up-and-comer Timothy Bradley turned into a struggle for the Filipino champion, and what was supposed to be yet another tune-up for Mayweather, while he was in prison (h/t ESPN), turned into a Bradley win and an ensuing tailspin of hatred from Money's camp while he was unable to communicate.
While opinions are still mixed about who should have won the 12-round fight, it's clear that that loss damaged Pacquiao's claim to facing Mayweather at all. It ended up being unimportant, though, as a challenge with Juan Manuel Marquez gave Pacquiao the chance to prove he was still in good graces with his God-given gifts.
He instead took home a second-straight loss, this time in knockout variety.
Pacquiao looked good in the early rounds and had a chance to finish off Marquez in the fourth, but instead suffered a major blow to both his career resume and chances to ever face Mayweather when Marquez put him on the mat for good in the sixth.
Since then, all has been quiet on the Mayweather/Pacquiao front—and for good reason.
No one wants to see Pacquiao get a fight against Mayweather after losing two straight fights. Mayweather, in a December interview with fighthype.com, was then quoted as saying he felt bad for Pacquiao, but hoped he would bounce back like a true champion.
It's the nicest thing he's ever said in the entirety of this beef, and that should tell you one thing—the feud, at least on Mayweather's side, is dead. You don't feel pity for someone who could claim your throne in the boxing world, because that person might just come take it away.
It's a bold truth, but one that is the most important of this entire claim.
Mayweather is set to face Robert Guerrero in pursuit of his 44th career win on May 4, a full year after he was last in the ring. It should be a true test of his ability to overcome the year-long layoff, and will be the start of a six-fight deal with Showtime Sports (via Forbes.com).
He also has other opponents that are more crucial to his title defense, including names like Saul Alvarez, top-rising prospect Canelo Alvarez and Danny Garcia—whom Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated feels is in line for a shot at the Money Team with a win against Zab Judah.
On the flip side, Pacquiao is gearing up for a November showdown (h/t Fox Sports) with either Brandon Rios or Mike Alvarado, after which (with a win, of course) he will likely get a chance for a fifth bout with Marquez or a long-anticipated rematch with Bradley.
Pacquiao would have to win at least both of those fights to even get back into consideration for a Mayweather fight, at which time both fighters will be another year older and another year removed from what could have been the fight of the century in 2010.
To clarify, of course this fight could still happen.
A couple of Pac-Man wins and a small slip-up in the form of looking bad from Mayweather would push this issue back to the table again, even if the two would be 35 (Pacquiao) and 37 (Mayweather) this time next year when that reality would strike.
It's been a marquee fight that has been on the table for years, but neither fighter has stepped up to the challenge of putting talk aside. At this point, it would still be a great fight, but ego and pride persist on both sides as the clock continues to tick on the excellence of both careers.
Save yourself some serious heartache, folks, and forget about a Manny Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather Jr. brawl.
Who deserves the blame for this fight not happening?
Yes, it would be the biggest pay-per-view in boxing history. Yes, it would pit two guys who are similar in both age and ability in the ring to see whose career resume stands the test of time. And yes, it would be the marquee boxing event of the last 15 years.
But it isn't happening. Both fighters have made it clear that anything that can be argued about will be argued about, and in the meantime one of the two (Pac-Man) lost a step before our eyes while we waited for the situation to play itself out.
Hold on to Canelo Alvarez and other emerging champion's win streak if he gets a chance to avenge losses to both Marquez and Bradley.
But stop wishing for this superfight to ever grace Cowboys Stadium, the MGM Grand or any other venue lucky enough to be in the conversation. It will save you time, questions and a lot of heartbreak in the end, when we look back to this period in the sport and think about what could have been.
Heck, we're already there now.
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