Manny Pacquiao is coming off a career-saving victory against Timothy Bradley, but the aging fighter will never truly capitalize on his immense popularity until he steps into the ring against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Pac-Man proved that he is still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the history of boxing during his rematch with "Desert Storm," as he demolished his opponent to reclaim the WBO welterweight belt that he lost back in 2012.
The victory allowed the Filipino star to put his first controversial loss to Bradley and his embarrassing knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez in the rearview mirror. He re-established himself at the top of the sport, just under Mayweather.
However, the 35-year-old isn’t drawing the same fanfare he was back before the judges robbed him of a win over Bradley and Marquez sent him to the mat out cold. According to Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, Pac-Man’s pay-per-view numbers aren’t expected to breach one million sales. The writer estimated that his buys would land somewhere between 800,000 and 825,000 range.
Compare those with the 1.15 million pay-per-view sales that Pacquiao averaged during his seven fights between December 2008 and November 2011, as per Iole, and it is clear that the aging pugilist and the sport itself no longer have the same luster.
With little in the way of exciting challengers emerging to test Pac-Man, the southpaw is being forced to rematch familiar foes and is likely to see a fifth installment of his epic series with Marquez.
While aficionados would love to see if Pacquiao can avenge his shortcomings and put an emphatic end to the battle between the two cagey veterans, it isn’t likely to garner much interest outside the usual suspects. That bout would be lucky to surpass the 980,000 PPV sales that the pair drew in December 2012 and isn’t the best opportunity for Pac-Man to maximize his exposure.
There is only one option to do that, and it involves the unlikely, potentially impossible scenario of Top Rank CEO and promoter Bob Arum working with Mayweather’s Golden Boy Promotions to organize what would likely be the biggest superfight in boxing history and shatter every possible viewing and sales record in the books.
It is worth noting that Arum is at least talking about the possibility, as he claimed he was willing to work out a deal with "Money’s" camp immediately after his client defeated Desert Storm, per Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
Unfortunately, Mayweather’s obsession with perfection may deny fans the satisfaction of seeing these two legends touch gloves. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach spoke to Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail about that issue:
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.
Hopefully, Money will see the light and the dollar signs that come with taking on Pacquiao. It is the ultimate opportunity to maximize profits and exposure, as well a fitting end to two of the best careers in boxing history.