Amir Khan's angst in failing to secure a May bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. was a bitter pill for the Briton to swallow, but that rejection was but the latest in what could be a very long saga between the two.
Both fighters won their most recent matchups at the MGM Grand last Saturday. "Money" unified the WBA and WBC welterweight titles thanks to his majority-decision win over Marcos Maidana, while "King" Khan recorded a third successive win, beating Luis Collazo with a decisive unanimous-decision victory.
The pair won't be meeting in September, when Mayweather will face his next opponent, due to Khan's Muslim faith. That date will be too close to the fasting period of Ramadan, and Khan is quoted by the Mirror's David Anderson as saying it gives Mayweather an excuse not to go up against him:
Maybe my fasting gives Floyd the excuse he has been looking for not to fight me. Even when the fans’ poll over who he should fight went in my favour, he still didn’t fight me.
Maybe my religious beliefs give Floyd an excuse not to fight me. If he offers the fight in September, he knows it will get turned down. That way he could turn round and say Amir Khan did not want the fight. They’re aware of all this, so why can’t they wait a couple of months?
Money now has a bounty of options ahead of him, with some calling for a rematch against Maidana, whom even he would admit gave him a good contest in Las Vegas, while the prospects of Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao or Shawn Porter may also be explored, along with others.
However, even if the cross-continental showdown between Khan and Mayweather isn't to come about this year, there's no reason to believe it's not a viable option in 2015.
By then, the 37-year-old, whose record currently stands at 46-0, will have another fight under his belt, and Khan may still be searching for the next step in his career.
Increasing speculation of a future fixture, the Daily Mail's David Kent has reported that Khan's hometown of Bolton will now be a part of Mayweather's world tour, too, in what may be perceived as a tactical move on Money's part.
Khan's latest showing was unanimous in every sense of the word, and even though Collazo connected on a few tired, swinging shots of his own in the latter stages of their encounter, the Englishman looked dominant throughout.
ESPN's Ian Darke even went so far as to term the display as the best of his career thus far:
Amir Khan's best display of career ! Came of age v Collazo. Mayweather signs of ageing in surprisingly tough one v Maidana. He won tho.— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) May 4, 2014
And it wouldn't be unjust to suggest as much, with Khan appearing to benefit from a lengthened period away from the ring.
The 27-year-old's career record is far from gleaming; he knows that. However, after suffering successive defeats to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia in 2011 and 2012, he looks a far improved model of his former self these days.
Does Khan deserve his shot at Mayweather?
The Anglo-American fixture would draw huge attention, ticking one box that Mayweather would surely not see go unfulfilled, and would serve in vindicating Money's reputation further (should he win) while also offering Khan his chance at the big time.
In the months leading up to his decision to fight Maidana, Mayweather took his time in answering the question of whether or not Khan would be afforded the opportunity.
With both fighters reinvigorated thanks to their most recent displays, we can only hope a swifter call is made on the possibility of seeing such a line-up as Khan chases the dream that so agonisingly slipped from his reach this year.