Although it would easily be the biggest boxing draw of the 21st century, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have danced around fighting each other more over the past five years than some ballroom professionals do in a lifetime.
That's clearly hyperbole, but waiting on the duo to man up and agree to a fight has taken longer than anyone would have expected when the dream matchup first started gaining steam.
Pacquiao, speaking to reporters in China in preparation for his November bout with Brandon Rios, suggested that he could one day oppose the undefeated champion and looks forward to that opportunity coming to fruition.
Then again, he also conceded that it will probably never happen.
As recorded by Yahoo! Sports' Justin Ong and Patrick Johnston of Reuters, here's a few of Pac-Man's comments in Singapore concerning the boxing super fight and how he views the next phase of his career:
I'm not really sure (how many fights left) as long as I can still fight I can fight. In my mind right now, maybe I can still fight maybe two to three years from now...I tell you frankly, honestly in myself I can still fight and I feel strong.
But since I lost the last fight, I never feel something in my body, I still feel strong and I can still fight...A lot of fans want to see that fight, and I’m looking forward to it. But I don’t think he wants to fight.
Top Rank's Bob Arum, who is Pacquiao's promoter, was a little more flamboyant in his approach to setting up new dialogue on a Pacquiao-Mayweather clash:
The problem with Mayweather: he would insist that a fight between him and Pacquiao be held in the U.S. Why not Asia? Because he thinks that’s not fair. He thinks by fighting in Asia he’s fighting in front of Manny’s people.
I think when Floyd realizes the economic benefits of doing a fight in Asia, maybe at the new Singapore stadium...maybe that will open up a dialogue for a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight in Asia...Never say never.
Worldwide expansion was a big takeaway from Pacquiao's and Arum's comments in Singapore. The pair reiterated to those in attendance that they want to bring a major bout to the country one day. By fighting Rios in China, Pacquiao is taking steps toward that goal.
Although Pacquiao and Top Rank remain positive that two or three successful bouts will lure Mayweather into negotiations once more, the simple fact remains: Both fighters are running out of time.
Mayweather's camp has taken every opportunity to use Pacquiao's latest two-fight losing streak as a chance to paint the Filipino as washed up.
BoxingInsider.com had this Mayweather quote about Pacquiao in early July:
Floyd Mayweather: "Pacquiao's a has-been" ... "his career is over...his career is over" #boxing— Boxing Insider.com (@BoxingInsider) July 8, 2013
Heck, even Floyd Mayweather Sr. continues to dog his son's potential opponent. UnifiedBoxing.com had this post on Twitter with some of his latest comments:
Video: 'Who's Pacquiao?' - Mayweather Sr. rips Manny, claims he's irrelevant after knockout loss to Marquez http://t.co/MAlhrcKqh5— UnifiedBoxing.com (@unifiedboxing) July 26, 2013
As reported by ABS-CBNNews.com, Pacquiao has not shied away from returning serve in his verbal battle with Mayweather.
Addressing Money's comments from the Boxing Insider tweet, Pacquiao maintained that Mayweather was "all talk." Pac-Man also said he longed for the day when his potential opponent would just say "Let's fight" instead of making excuses for why the fight shouldn't take place.
The verbal sparring between the two champions has been outstanding. But in the world of boxing, talk is cheap.
We want to see Pacquiao and Mayweather in the ring, not in a continuing series of back-and-forth sessions of grade school one-upping.
Fresh off a relatively harmless win over Robert Guerrero in May, Mayweather is expected to take on Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on Sept. 14. The Mexican star should be one of Money's toughest opponents in the last few years.
Although Pacquiao will likely be the favorite against Rios, he's anything but guaranteed victory after losing to Juan Manuel Marquez by knockout and Timothy Bradley by decision in his last two fights.
If both men take care of business, there's a good chance super fight chatter could pick back up. With a win over Alvarez, Mayweather will have taken down nearly every opponent qualified to oppose him right now. The most qualified opponent he's yet to tango with, though, is Pacquiao.
Percentage Meter: What's the likelihood of us seeing a Mayweather-Pacquiao clash before both retire?
As noted by Paul Magno of Yahoo! Sports, Pacquiao's latest losses could be a blessing in disguise with respect to creating the much talked-about match. Over the last three years, neither boxer has had much incentive to dump in-house opponents for each other.
You could easily make the argument that Pacquiao now has something to prove. Whether it's against Rios, Marquez, Bradley or Mayweather, Pacquiao just wants to get back in the ring and remind us all why he is a 10-time champion across eight divisions.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Every time the two fighters get close to accepting each other's terms, the other finds a chink in the armor cracked just enough to avoid getting close to an agreement.
Whether it be location, money or the color of the ropes at the arena, Pacquiao and Mayweather have always had an excuse. Whether you fall on Money's side or Pac-Man's side of that line, it would be foolish not to concede that both men have contributed to an overwhelmingly frustrating situation.
Pacquiao's latest comments suggest that he and Mayweather could one day grace the same ring on the same night.
They also help paint the reality that we're still light years away from that end game.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.