Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2) and Brandon Rios (31-1-1) are on a collision course for November 23 at the Venetian Macao in Macau, China.
Yet the main story is Floyd Mayweather.
Fans have trainer Freddie Roach to thank, who told ESPN he still has hope for the "superfight" between Pacquiao and Mayweather:
Every big fight that was supposed to happen in boxing happens somewhere along the way, I just hope this one isn't going to happen too late when they're both washed up and not the same. Then they're just doing it for the money, anyway.
I still have hope. Mayweather's in the same position [Pacquiao] is. You've only got eight fighters in the world that can sell on pay-per-view and make money. That's why I give it a shot.
Sorry, but three years ago this would have been an intriguing story.
Not now, after Mayweather still rests atop the boxing world with his recent victory over Canelo Alvarez. Not now, after Pacquiao has suffered two straight defeats—one by split decision to Timothy Bradley in June of 2012, the other by knockout last December.
Pacquiao hasn't won in about two years, so why do we care?
When the WBO international welterweight title is on the line against Rios, who is all but an afterthought in this saga, the American fighter claims he will emerge victorious:
Brandon Rios tells Jim Lampley during a satellite interview that he is going to retire Manny Pacquiao and that he's the next star in boxing.— ESPN Boxing (@ESPNBoxing) November 10, 2013
Yet hardly anyone is listening, and Rios himself fails to realize that Pacquiao's name is just that—a name.
Pacquiao has not participated in a bout outside of the United States since 2006. He's a shell of the former draw he used to represent. Juan Manuel Marquez, the man who brutally knocked out Pacquiao in his last fight? He was just leveled by the aforementioned Bradley, further damaging Pacquiao's résumé.
Still, credit to Pacquiao's camp for a number of things.
For one, the dangling of Mayweather's name like a piñata before each bout to up the cash and hype is smart, so kudos for that.
Two, the match with Rios is a stroke of genius. Rios touts a straight-forward style that Pacquiao is sure to feast on in the ring—Pac-Man excels in an all-out brawl where the opponent is on the offensive.
Rios isn't Marquez. He won't sit back and pick a nice spot to counter and land the perfect punch. He also won't last 12 rounds. One has to wonder how Pacquiao's jaw will hold up, but all in all this one has the makings of a rout unless Pacquiao slips up.
But a win over Rios, even via knockout, does not suddenly announce to the world that Pacquiao is back or an upper-echelon fighter. Pacquiao is clearly a shell of his former self with less speed and impact behind his blows.
In fact, Rios is a nice way to go out. Pacquiao is probably too stubborn to hang up the gloves, but he doesn't want a match with Mayweather, who has shown zilch in the regression department.
Still want to see Pacquiao vs. Mayweather?
The dream bout fans seem to want would be a lopsided affair as Mayweather's style perfectly contrasts to Pacquiao's in what would surely be a decision in the former's favor.
No need for Pacquiao to end his career on that note. It'd be like Brett Favre going to Minnesota—the effort is duly noted, but it won't lead to anything of merit.
A win over Rios does little for Pacquiao at this point, and the fight that should have happened three or more years ago won't move any closer.
Things will simply carry on as per the usual—Pacquiao and Mayweather fight everyone besides each other while talking about each other. Classic.