Will the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight ever happen?
It's the question on every boxing fan's mind after "Money" Mayweather defeated Saul "Canelo" Alvarez on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Mayweather wins majority decision. Closer than fans thought— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) September 15, 2013
As Sho Stats indicates, Mayweather displayed the sort of command we've all come to expect from the undefeated champion:
#ShoStats: Percentage of Total Punches Landed/Thrown thru 12 Mayweather 45.941% Canelo 22.243%— SHO Stats (@SHOStats) September 15, 2013
It's clear that the door hasn't closed on Mayweather's career, which ultimately leads the general public to wonder how feasible a Mayweather-Pacquiao superfight still is.
The potential marquee fight has long been the dream bout for the sport.
Former World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman agrees:
Greatest fighters I Ever saw:Liston,Learnard, Ali, Frazier, Pacquiao & Mayweather.— George Foreman (@GeorgeForeman) August 16, 2013
Both fighters started gaining national prominence toward the end of the 2000s. After taking down foes such as Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao commanded attention for his talent, speed and power displayed in various fights.
Money had a similar resume to Pacquiao's at the time; wins over De La Hoya, Hatton and Marquez were already under Mayweather's belt as the Pacquiao-Cotto decision brought everything to a head in anticipation of a superfight.
Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel wrote back in Nov. 2009 that a Pacquiao-Mayweather match had to be made. At the time, he predicted 2010 would be the year we saw the two boxing greats put their legacies and reputations on the line.
Who should carry the most blame for Mayweather-Pacquiao not happening to date?
A lot has been lost in translation between the drug-testing, venue and high-dollar requirements of each camp over the last four years. After the Pacquiao-Cotto fight, Pac-Man and Money both expressed more than just passing interest when asked about facing each other.
Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach started drumming up support for his fighter to face Mayweather just days after the Cotto bout was over. As reported by ESPN's Dan Rafael, it was clear that Pacquiao's camp had their eyes firmly fixated on Mayweather moving forward.
Although he called it a "no-win situation," Mayweather couldn't deny that the high-dollar fight was something he would pursue as the next round of fights were being made just before the new year.
My my, how things have changed.
Fast-forward to 2013, and preliminary negotiations would be a step in the right direction for these two.
Mayweather has been more vocal than Pacquiao in recent weeks, taking every question directed toward a superfight with the Filipino champion and turning it into an excuse to provide additional reasons why the matchup will never occur.
Speaking to Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole in late July, Mayweather once again made a Pacquiao fight seem unlikely.
"The only way he's getting the fight with me is if he signs with Mayweather Promotions. He's got to give me fights with Mayweather Promotions. If he don't give me no fights under Mayweather Promotions, then he's not getting the fight," Mayweather told Iole.
A full month before his fight with Canelo, Mayweather again put the brakes on any chatter that he and Pacquiao were ready to set aside their differences for the good of the boxing community. As reported by David Mayo of MLive.com, Mayweather nailed boards to the superfight doors and windows by saying that Pacquiao "had a chance" but "he blew it."
Pacquiao has been more bashful about knocking down rumors of an impending Mayweather fight, but has spoke when spoken to. He called Mayweather "cocky" earlier this year, and also sat down with Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix to discuss the future between the two champions.
Now that Mayweather has extended his undefeated record to 45-0, it is still very unclear how much motivation—if any—Money will have to put himself on the line against Pacquiao without the Filipino's camp agreeing to every stipulation he suggests.
Pacquiao no longer holds as much leverage in negotiations as he used to. He doesn't need money to stay afloat and seemingly has a political career ahead of himself in his native country, but that doesn't mean he wants to end his career with the biggest question an athlete has to answer when they look in the mirror at night.
There's a good chance Pacquiao will have to come closer to Mayweather's demands to make the fight happen. That being said, there's zero chance he leaves Top Rank for Mayweather Promotions, and the drug-testing situation is another matter entirely.
With every Mayweather win, a Pacquiao fight seems less likely.
The one saving grace for the future of the superfight appears to be that public desire to see Mayweather and Pacquiao battle it out has not swayed. Despite the long delay from the first whispers of the possibility to now, there's little doubt the matchup would break a pay-per-view record.
And we all know how Money feels about money.
If I had to put odds on it, I'd say there's still a 50-50 chance Mayweather and Pacquiao fight before their respective careers are over. Depending on what happens with Pac-Man's fight with Brandon Rios, that number could change.
For now, we're in a familiar place of ambiguity with the future of the bout.
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