It is hard to imagine two fighters that have never faced each other sustaining a rivalry, but Floyd "Money" Mayweather and Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao are boxing's version of the Cold War.
Two super fighters who, for a time, stood head-and-shoulders above their contemporaries, but have never agreed to meet in the ring.
With Pacquiao riding a two-fight losing streak and Mayweather set to battle Robert Guerrero on Saturday night, the dynamics around a potential matchup have changed.
Mayweather is 36 years old but is still undefeated. He faces a huge test on Saturday because Guerrero is a hungry, capable opponent. In addition to that, Mayweather hasn't fought in a year.
He served a two-month jail sentence and Father Time ultimately takes away a fighter's natural gifts.
Will all of those elements work together to ruin Mayweather's undefeated record? We'll find out on Saturday, but it is unclear how the results would affect a meeting with Pacquiao.
In many ways, we are no closer to seeing this boxing spectacle occur than when the buzz for it began. How did we get here?
March 19, 2009—Mayweather Comes Out of Brief Retirement and Reportedly Eyes Pacquiao
Mayweather scored a 10th-round TKO win over Ricky Hatton in Dec. 2007. In 2008, he walked away from the sport.
The retirement didn't last long. Mayweather returned to the ring in June 2009 and dominated Juan Manuel Marquez. Prior to the bout, Mayweather reportedly named Pacquiao as the main fighter that he wanted to come out of retirement to face.
A source close to Money told ESPN's Dan Rafael:
He's itching to go. The way he sounded, he is willing to take on whoever they throw in his face. He would do the [Manny] Pacquiao-[Ricky] Hatton winner, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez.
The only one he doesn't have an interest in is [a rematch with] Oscar De La Hoya. But in Floyd's mind, he knows there is one Godzilla, and that's a fight with Pacquiao.
Many don't realize Money came calling first. It has sometimes been portrayed that Pacquiao was chasing Mayweather. But this was the initiation of talks between the two.
April 3, 2009—Pacquiao Confirms Mayweather Interested In Fighting Him
Pacquiao told AOL News that Mayweather's camp was interested in fighting him. Pacquiao said:
I think he's going to fight again. He's not really retired. ...I heard from Floyd Jr.'s camp that he's coming back to the ring.
For me -- if I'm Floyd -- I would fight a tune-up fight and then fight me. That's for me, but I don't know what his plan is. He might want to fight me right away.
Based on these comments and Mayweather's overtures, it seemed certain the two men would meet in the ring. What happened?
April 16, 2009—Bob Arum Gets Involved
Top Rank head man Bob Arum used to promote Mayweather. It was a nasty and bitter split and their feud has been perhaps the most detrimental factor in this process.
Arum's vindictiveness was first on display in this situation on the date above. Per Boxing Insider, Arum said:
F*** Mayweather. Pacquiao’s the big attraction. He has to come to us if he wants it. If he doesn’t come to us, there’s dozens of other guys we can fight.
Thus began the tug-o-war that likely supersedes every other excuse or detail that has ever hindered this fight.
May-July 2009—Sides Argue over 60-40 or 50-50 Split
"You can tell Floyd Mayweather that Bob Arum says he's delusional,"
At one point, Mayweather even offered to pay Marquez money to bow out of their fight. But he was not willing to split the pot with Pacquiao.
The posturing turned to a pose and what seemed like a certainty turned into a bleak looking situation.
September 2009—Mayweather Sr. Says Pacquiao is on Some Kind of "Supplements"
Almost none of the most counterproductive events in this process are originating from the fighters themselves.
Money's dad spoke to M-Live and implied Pac-Man was on steroids, check out the interview:
This was just the beginning of what would become another stumbling block in the process.
November 2009-December 2009—Golden Boy Approaches Pacquiao About Making the Fight
After Mayweather nearly shut out Marquez and Pacquiao battered Miguel Cotto, negotiations seemed to again heat up.
Venues were discussed and debated. Cowboy Stadium and the MGM Grand were the two most-likey sites.
Dates in the middle of March or the beginning of May were tossed about. Per Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, Mayweather originally wanted MGM Grand, but he ultimately agreed to Pacquiao's choice, which was Cowboys Stadium.
The date was apparently set for March 10, 2010. Per Boxing Scene, Pacquiao preliminarily agreed to the date and fight in principle, but the weight and glove size was a sticking point.
Mayweather apparently wanted to fight at 154 pounds with 10-ounce gloves, while Pacquiao's camp wanted eight-ounce gloves and the fight at 147 pounds.
It didn't appear that this would be an issue, but other impediments would arise.
That issue was ultimately the Olympic-style random drug testing request by Mayweather. Per MLive, Mayweather's manager Leonard Ellerbe said:
Floyd’s got nothing to do with this. It’s our job to protect him and give him the best chance to be successful. Inside the ring, he’s got that. He’ll have no problem with Pacquiao, none whatsoever. Our job is to take care of things outside the ring.
With the standard commission testing, they only test for specific things. The Olympic-style testing tests for everything. The commission testing is nowhere near as sophisticated.
Fight Hype later reported that Pacquiao refused to take the testing right before the fight, but he would take the test before the kick-off press conference and after.
Mayweather's camp would not give in on the issue. Pacquiao ultimately decided to pursue legal action based on what he believed were insinuations that he was on performance-enhancing drugs.
Per Rafael, Pacquiao said:
Enough is enough. These people, Mayweather Sr., [Mayweather] Jr. and Golden Boy Promotions, think it is a joke and a right to accuse someone wrongly of using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs.
I have tried to just brush it off as a mere prefight ploy, but I think they have gone overboard.
January 2010—Bob Arum Declares Fight Off
After several stumbling blocks and deadlines, Arum declares fight off. Per Rafael:
Manny accepted what was on the table and Mayweather rejected it. Haymon and Schaefer tried to convince Floyd all [Tuesday night] and [Wednesday] and he wouldn't agree to it. He didn't want the fight. He never wanted the fight. I always knew the fight wouldn't happen
March 2010—Pacquiao Defeats Joshua Clottey
When no agreement could be reached, Pacquiao's camp moved forward on the March 10 date. Pacquiao handled Clottey easily and earned the unanimous decision win.
May 2010—Mayweather Defeats Shane Mosley
Money hands Sugar Shane a loss via unanimous decision. There was an us moment in the fight for Mayweather, though. Mosley stunned him with a hard right hand in the second round.
It was only the second time in Mayweather's career that he'd been visibly wobbled by a punch.
At points during the month the sides spoke of negotiations, but also denied that any talks were going on. Another monkey wrench is thrown in when rumors surface that Antonio Margarito is set to face Pacquiao next.
July 2010-December 2010—With No Deal, Pacquiao Camp Moves on Again
Pacquiao agrees to meet Margarito in November. Pac-Man batters his overmatched opponent for 12 rounds in an exceptionally lopsided affair.
Mayweather takes the rest of the year off to spend time with his family.
2011—No More Serious Negotiations
The two sides didn't officially enter into any negotiations. Mayweather did return to the ring in September. He stopped Victor Ortiz in the fourth round. The bout had a controversial ending, though.
After being head butted by Ortiz, referee Joe Cortez penalized Ortiz a point. As Ortiz attempted to ask Money for forgiveness, Mayweather clocked him with a combination that ended the night.
That subsequently led to the now infamous, "you don't know s--- about boxing" argument with then HBO color commentator Larry Merchant.
Pacquiao won an easy decision over Mosley and then scored a majority decision win over Marquez. Aside from a few barbs here and there, the two sides seem to have gone in completely different directions.
2012—Pacquiao Slips Up and Mayweather Goes Away
For the first time in seven years, Pacquiao suffered defeat. He was out-pointed by Timothy Bradley in June, but the year got even worse for Pac-Man.
In December, he was savagely knocked out by Marquez in their fourth meeting. The loss knocked one of the super powers off of their pedestal.
This was the only that something that occurred in the ring threatened the status of the super fight.
In the ring, Mayweather was a winner in a tough bout with Cotto in May, but outside of it he took a significant legal loss.
He was convicted of domestic violence and had to serve two months in jail.
Mayweather is set to return to the ring after a year-long absence to face Guerrero. Pacquiao still hasn't announced who his next opponent will be, although he has said he wants to fight in Macau in September.
Will we ever see the dream fight? Does anyone still care? No one knows the answer to the first question, but somehow, the answer to the second is still yes.
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