It's the fight everyone has been anticipating since Manny Pacquiao rose to fame and looked like a worthy adversary to Floyd Mayweather.
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. Money vs. Pac-Man. Not only is it the one fight that every boxing fan wants to see, it's beginning to become the one that got away.
Hell, it's such a talked about match at this point that even Muhammad Ali isn't going to let either fighter forget about it, per his personal Twitter account:
But would it be the same? Pacquiao is 35 years old. Mayweather is 37. Pac-Man is coming off a convincing win over Timothy Bradley, but his entire year in 2012—you know, when he was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez—is still fresh on boxing fans' minds.
And then there's Money's fight against Marcos Maidana. While El Chino has proved time and again that he's a worthy opponent for any boxer, he certainly tested Money more than anyone thought he would on Saturday night.
That close match coupled with Pacquiao's recent win over Bradley provoked Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment to believe the fight might have new life:
What Maidana proved Saturday was that a plethora of punches might be enough to startle the 46-0 fighter. Despite the unanimous decision, no fan or analyst came away from the fight believing that Mayweather wasn't pushed near his limit by Maidana.
Much like every other current fighter in the world, Maidana wants another crack at Mayweather. In fact, Maidana was so confident after his loss that he claimed he thought he had won outright, per Bob Velin of USA Today.
"If I had my gloves, I would've knocked him out," Maidana said. "He never hurt me with a punch. He wasn't even that tough. ... I thought I won the fight. I feel like (the decision) was an injustice."
What happened next was an exchange for the ages, per Dan Rafael of ESPN, Gary Parrish of CBS Sports and David Mayo of MLive.com:
So where does that leave Pacquiao? The same man that just proved himself against Bradley and has won his last two matches is now playing second-fiddle to Maidana, a man who is five years younger than him.
Though he has shown flashes of greatness once again in his last two fights, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated doesn't think Pacquiao will stand a chance against Mayweather:
At the same time, the further we get away from what might have been the best fight of the decade four or five years ago, anticipation and intrigue is now slowly diminishing.
Fans who cried out for the match to take place now simply feel robbed by one side or the other. Others, like Michael Wilbon of ESPN, can't help but feel sorrow over the fact that the two might never step into the ring against one another:
As both sides hash out terms for their next fights, many in the boxing community still hope that both men will lace up and finally decide who the better boxer is in Las Vegas.
After years of waiting, it's time for this fight to finally happen. Does that mean it will come to fruition? Likely not, as Wilbon points out.
But if both sides respect the sport enough to give the fans exactly what they want, maybe—just maybe—this battle of attrition will actually come to a halt. It's what fans want. It's what Ali wants.
It's now or never.
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