It's only human nature to look beyond the present, and although Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s upcoming bout with Marcos Maidana is boxing's biggest focus right now, attention will always turn to what could come as a result of that bout.
One such possibility that simply refuses to go away is that of "Money" next taking on Manny Pacquiao, who is currently riding high on the back of April's unanimous decision win over Timothy Bradley for the WBO welterweight title.
It's a proposition that's been batted about for years, but Mayweather this week assessed the Filipino veteran and wasn't too impressed with what he's seen, per ESPN's Dan Rafael (h/t PhilStar.com's Dino Maragay):
I don’t see the same pop in Pacquiao’s shots. Once again, I’m not saying this guy is doing anything, but I don’t see the same snap in his shots.
He’s getting tired when he wasn’t getting tired before. I’m seeing something totally different whereas me, I’m still sharp, I’m still smart, I’m not getting fatigued. I wasn’t getting fatigued from the beginning, and those are the things that I see. I don’t know if you guys see it, but that’s what I see.
Matchroom Sport promoter Eddie Hearn writes in his Daily Mail column that Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is the fight fans have been aching to see, describing it as "ridiculous" the pair haven't faced one another:
He is the king of the ring and the king of making money. But fight week seems particularly flat and I’m hearing from my people in America that there is not the buzz or even much interest in his fight with Marcos Maidana.
He should be fighting Manny Pacquiao. That fight is credible again after he beat Timothy Bradley and it is ridiculous that they are not facing each other.
For the bout to even maintain the slightest chance of coming about, Mayweather must first make his way past Maidana. Depending on how much the Argentine can test his opponent, the forum will then be open to what lies next.
When quizzed on who was most at fault for the fight not coming about, Hearn remained enigmatic on the subject:
Should Maidana defeat the odds to beat Mayweather, a highly unlikely result at this point, Money will be forced into a weaker position, more at the whim—if he can ever be described as such—of his peers.
But the ball remains firmly in Mayweather's court if he dominates Maidana. There will be no dire necessity in risking his perfect record, which would then stand at 46-0.
Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach is less optimistic than some about the potential fight, and Michael Woods of ESPN New York (h/t Allan Fox of BoxingNews24.com) quotes the coach all but ruling out the possibility of the fixture:
There’s a fight in L.A., at The Forum, between Juan Manuel Marquez and Mike Alvarado on May 17, and the winner is a natural opponent next for Manny. We’d love to fight Floyd Mayweather next, but at this point it seems next to impossible, with the promoters and the networks further apart. I’d like Marquez next; we owe him something. I hope he wins, and he should win that fight against Alvarado.
It's a turbulent, winding path of boxing and politics that runs far deeper than two fighters simply agreeing to lace up against one another. The disagreements between different promoters, broadcasters and other financiers are just some of the major obstacles in need of clearing, not to mention convincing Mayweather to somehow get on board.
However sad a conclusion it may be, fans will have to accept that Mayweather, 37, versus Pacquiao, 35, is a fight that wasn't meant to be. The only thread of hope remains the ridiculous money both men stand to make by sharing the same ring.