Now that Manny Pacquiao eviscerated his slump with an overwhelming win over Brandon Rios in Macau, China, the long-desired dream fight between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather has immediately jumped back into the never-ending discussion.
However, after rediscovering the win column on Saturday night, Pacquiao should stay away from Mayweather if he wants to stay on the winner's side.
In his first action since getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez last year, Pacquiao regained his old form in dominating fashion. He toyed with Rios for 12 rounds before walking away with a victory by unanimous decision.
All the old calling cards that make Pacquiao so great were on full display. He exuded his usual quickness while delivering an array of unyielding power punches to his overmatched opponent. It was the perfect victory for Pacquiao after not sniffing success in two years.
The matchup, however, was also tailor-made for his triumphant return to the squared circle. Mayweather, on the other hand,does not line up favorably for any potential foe.
As Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach correctly predicted, Rios succumbed to his undying aggressiveness. Rios continually took the fight to Pacquiao, who gladly capitalized by landing a colossal 281 punches. As ESPN's Dan Rafael pointed out, the fight was practically sparring practice for Pacquiao:
That's not to call Rios a scrub, as he's compiled his share of accolades while losing only his second outing in 34 bouts. But he was the perfect opponent for the 34-year-old Pacquiao, who needed to look strong after dropping his last two fights and taking nearly a year off to regroup.
Pacquiao did not have to overextend himself by chasing Rios around the ring. For all his toughness, Rios never stood a chance at topping Pacquiao by keeping his head still.
Now that Pacquiao looks strong again, get ready for the rumor mill to enter full swing about a Pacquiao-Mayweather megafight.
It's not just pure speculation either, as Top Rank's Bob Arum said it's a possibility for next September, via Jordan Stoddart of Boxscorenews. In addition, Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach also suggested before Saturday's victory that Pacquiao could still defeat Mayweather, according to Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole:
Mayweather is I think slipping a little bit, with his age and so forth. He can't move like he used to. He doesn't use his legs like he used to. He doesn't have the movement. He's not as fluid. He stays on the ropes a lot more. He exchanges a lot more. I think that would benefit Manny Pacquiao in a fight.
Obviously, Mayweather is very good at what he does. I'm not saying that would be an easy fight. We'd have to come up with a great game plan. We'd have to really stick to it to win that fight. He has some flaws. Nobody is perfect out there. If we could draw those flaws out and take advantage of them, we'd be in a good spot. I still pick Manny to win that fight.
The "slipping" Mayweather remains a perfect 45-0 after having disposed of Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in September. According to CompuBox, opponents have landed just 18 percent of their attempted punches against Mayweather, which makes him one of the sport's premier defenders.
Pacquiao won't be able to trade punches with Mayweather, who will make Pacquiao exert all of his energy on the offensive end, causing Pacquiao to fall short defensively.
Even if Pacquiao were to beat Mayweather, would the fight still be worth it? Once upon a time, these two gladiators were boxing's undisputed top fighters entrenched in their prime. Now, the bar is set too high for a fight that couldn't possibly match the anticipation.
How could this billing possibly live up to the monumental hype that has been brewing for years? Anything short of making every Rocky movie look like a snoozer would amount to an utter disappointment.
At this point, it might be better to let fans' imagination take over in wondering "what if". When expectations are set so high, the final outcome rarely delivers.