Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather is dead.
Forget it. Move on. Go through the stages of grief, if necessary. Find another dream match.
Pacquiao may have battered Timothy Bradley Saturday night en route to a decision that should have given him a 2-0 mark against the American, but in the process, he showed he's not even close to Mayweather's echelon at this stage of his career.
Just don't tell that to promoter Bob Arum, who took anything and everyone to task after Saturday's fight before stating he remains ready to ink the fight, per Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix:
The main object of Arum's ire? Mayweather's upcoming bout with Marcos Maidana:
Translation: Arum is mad he's not lining his pockets via the biggest superfight in history. Make no mistake, Mayweather will pick apart Maidana in quite an ugly fashion, but the underlying theme here is bitterness between two promotions and networks, not to mention the almighty dollar itself.
Keep in mind that while Pacquiao is on a comeback tour to make right recent losses—a fifth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez makes too much sense next—Mayweather has been downing the likes of Canelo Alvarez and doing everything he can to keep his record pristine.
There was a time when both fighters ducked each other to not tarnish their legacies. Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, got this right days before the fight with Bradley, per Jeff Powell of the Mail Online:
Floyd's main concern has become keeping that 0 [for zero losses] on his record. I don't see him taking any real risk of losing that before the end of next year, when he says he's retiring.
It's not that he's afraid of Manny. No fighters are scared of anybody in the world. It's just that he believes if he goes out undefeated he will be seen as better than greats like Sugar Ray Robinson, who had losses on their records.
But that's a two-way street. Pacquiao is simply on the hunt to keep his career alive at this point, and he did so Saturday—but not in a convincing fashion.
Where was the aggression? Gone in favor of timidness. Where was the savvy movement? Sometimes there but sometimes absent in favor of absorbing punishment and getting staggered backward. Where was the knockout power? Right.
If Bradley hadn't gone off the deep end halfway through the fight, we may be signing a different story right now. Pacquiao already struggles with fighters who tout a similar style to his, so combine that with his downward trend the past few years and the end result of a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout is painfully obvious:
Pacquiao has aged, and it shows. It's unavoidable, and if the fight was going to happen, it needed to go down years ago.
Mayweather is out there padding his stats as his career comes to a close, but his skills have aged much better. Pacquiao needs to do the same, as an end-of-career loss at the hands of Mayweather would forever tarnish his legacy. If he somehow stole a victory, questions would still linger because both men can be considered out of their prime.
It's a lose-lose situation in all aspects. Pacquiao can learn a thing or two from Mayweather at this stage of his career, with the chief aspect being to end his career on a high note. To ensure that, he has to remain as far away from Mayweather as possible.