If Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao actually do square off in the dream matchup that boxing enthusiasts are desperate for, it likely won't happen in 2014. However, that's not to say the legendary showdown will never occur.
When Pacquiao lost a second consecutive fight by getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012, Mayweather implied that Pac-Man wasn't a worthy opponent to challenge his unblemished record.
But now the tide has turned for the Filipino southpaw, who avenged the first of his two straight defeats on April 12 by beating Timothy Bradley via unanimous decision. Many believe the split decision that went in Bradley's favor in the previous matchup was rather dubious and that Pacquiao should have won, so the congressman confirmed what a lot of people had already believed in showcasing his superiority.
Questions as to whether or not Pacquiao can take on a formidable foe such as Mayweather have to be dismissed after he dropped Bradley to 31-1 for his career in a dominant effort. Even Bradley couldn't deny Pac-Man's brilliance after criticizing him for a lack of fire prior to the fight, per The Guardian's Kevin Mitchell:
Bradley: "Pacquiao was the better man tonight. He still has it. I have respect for him." Now that's how to lose— kevin mitchell (@kevinmitchell50) April 13, 2014
Bleacher Report's Lyle Fitzsimmons feels that Pacquiao could be in line for a fifth fight with Marquez, though:
That would stick with the penchant for rematches that Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum has preferred recently, but he ranted to the media after Pacquiao's win over Bradley. He implied that the public should boycott Mayweather's next fight due to its poor quality and said he'd be open to negotiating a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather bout anytime, per Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix:
Arum: "The only people who can make Floyd fight Manny is the public…by boycotting the fight on May 3rd." This is an epic Arum rant.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) April 13, 2014
Arum says he is ready "anytime" to negotiate a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) April 13, 2014
Arum says instead of Maidana, Mayweather should say he is fighting a tuneup fight and sign to fight @MannyPacquiao in the fall.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) April 13, 2014
It's up to Mayweather to take care of business by keeping his 45-0 unblemished mark versus Marcos Maidana on May 3 to heighten anticipation for a prospective clash with Pacquiao even more.
If a fight were to take place between the two welterweight stalwarts, a 2015 date seems more likely than a 2014 one. Mayweather often takes his time between appearances in the ring due to how big of a draw he is, but he could very well lose his first fight to Pacquiao.
ESPN's Skip Bayless, a known pro-Pacquiao pundit, feels that the two must settle something soon before they get too far past their respective primes:
They'd better hurry and get this Pacquiao fight started or Mayweather will turn 40 before it's over.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 13, 2014
Who would win a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight?
Mayweather should accept the challenge. Otherwise, one can't help but feel that he ducked out of the fight to avoid being potentially toppled as the perceived best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. At least Arum feels strongly about the situation—that much is certain.
Any lack of passion Pacquiao might have had for boxing wasn't a long-lived phenomenon if his triumph over Bradley serves as any indication. There would be no shortage of motivation for the explosive dynamo to prove himself against Mayweather, who has exuded somewhat of a superiority complex and been rather dismissive toward Pacquiao in recent years.
Since Pacquiao has proved he still has plenty left in the tank, though, Mayweather has no reason to look down upon his potential future opponent. If he is indeed the best, he shouldn't seek fighters such as Maidana and should be cooperative in making a fight with Pacquiao happen as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, due to the perpetual gridlock from both sides in the past, the earliest realistic date for these two prolific boxers to square off in the ring seems to be 2015.