On 05/09/12 in an article titled “Mayweather's Just Starving The Public, Money-Manny Will Definitely Happen,” I said: “Rest assured boxing fans….we will get to see the biggest fight of this era. Don't fret for a moment, you'll get to see the top pound-for-pound fighter in boxing, Floyd Mayweather, fight the number two pound-for-pound fighter in boxing, Manny Pacquiao. The only way that Mayweather-Pacquiao doesn't happen will be if Pacquiao loses in the interim, because we know Mayweather won't be defeated before they fight.”
Well, Pacquiao has lost twice since then. Once on the the scorecards to Timothy Bradley (June 2012) and then he was stopped by Juan Manuel Marquez (December 2012) in his last fight. When I wrote that Mayweather-Pacquiao would definitely happen, Mayweather had just defeated Miguel Cotto in his last fight and looked terrific. Since then he's won a lopsided decision over the under-sized Robert Guerrero and in his last fight this past weekend he looked great in beating the slightly over-hyped but undefeated Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. With Mayweathers' recent showing versus Alvarez distancing himself from those in the running to next fight him, such as Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander, Brandon Rios and Manny Pacquiao, there's only one fighter amongst them who could generate monumental fan interest for a fight versus Floyd, and that is Pacquiao.
Taking nothing away from Garcia, Khan, Bradley, Alexander and Rios, but none of them could ignite the public's interest the way Pacquiao would – especially if he stops Rios this coming November, or beats him decisively the way he did Miguel Cotto in November 2009. However, getting by Rios will be a very tall order for Pacquiao if he's not willing to do the training needed in order to beat a young guy full of enthusiasm and determination with a great work rate like Rios. On the other hand, if Manny skimps in his training in any way, this is a fight that might not go his way. This is exactly why we won't know who's next for Mayweather until after Pacquiao fights Rios on November 23rd. Remember, Floyd stressed at the post fight press conference after beating Alvarez that he's going on vacation with his family and isn't gonna think about boxing. So suffice it to say, Mayweather isn't even thinking about who's next for at least the next six or seven weeks. Besides, he's already thought about it and knows what his best move is once he sees what happens between Pacquiao and Rios. Since Pacquiao's disputed decision loss to Bradley and then getting caught and stopped by Marquez in a fight he was in total control of, Mayweather has leap-frogged Manny as to who the number one fighter in boxing is, both as a draw and fighter. And after the way he looked versus Alvarez, he added another layer of proof confirming he's the man in the sport of professional boxing. But that's not good enough for Mayweather the fighter and competitor.
Floyd hasn't forgotten that Pacquiao beat him out for fighter of the decade. Also, no fighter has been thrown in his face as Pacquiao has, nor has Floyd been accused of ducking anyone like he has Manny, for the better part of three years, circa 2009-2012.
Floyd is well aware that a majority of boxing fans, those who are not Mayweather fans first, believe that he is the reason why a fight with Pacquiao never happened. They also believe that Mayweather's insistence on Olympic style drug testing before the fight was just subterfuge and a way of delaying the fight. This theory is something I fully endorse.
Amazingly both Bradley and Marquez lived to tell about their fights with the supposedly, allegedly roided up Pacquiao. Sure, I've always felt that Mayweather had the size, style and strength to beat Pacquiao, and would've had they fought at anytime during their careers. However, I do believe Floyd had some trepidation about fighting Manny and wasn't as certain of victory the way he was going into his other previous bouts. I believe this is no longer an issue at all.
Pacquiao has been Mayweather's rival for five years. The two of them have dominated the junior welterweight and welterweight divisions since 2007, and haven't yet met. Both of their careers will be complete if they never meet. They've both compiled strong Hall of Fame resumes. But they're also too competitive to let the rivalry die without tangling at least once, not to mention the tens of millions they'd both make if they fought.
At this time Mayweather can and will dictate the terms of the fight if it happens. Actually, he's never held all the cards over Pacquiao like he does now. On top of that, Floyd looks stronger, physically, than he's ever looked and Manny was KO'd in a devastating fashion nine months ago and hasn't looked like the supernova he did during 2009/2010. In spite of all that Mayweather has accomplished as a fighter and regardless of what he says, he wants Paquiao's name under his win column before he retires. No, he doesn't need it, but he's driven by want at this stage of his career much more than need. As wonderful as Mayweather has been and as terrifically as he's managed his career in and out of the ring, he knows the thought is still out there that a lot of what he'll be remembered for is not giving the public the fight they really wanted from him, a showdown with Pacquiao, if he retires having never fought him. He also knows most fans are naive and it doesn't matter when he gives it to them as long as he does.
Whatever reservations Mayweather had about fighting Pacquiao before are no longer there. His love of dead presidents and a lasting legacy are still in play. Floyd harbors no self doubt about how a fight between he and Pacquiao would turn out. It's also the biggest fight in boxing, still, provided Pacquiao gets by Rios and looks reinvigorated in the process. Then again, all Manny really has to do is win and the fight will once again be the talk in most boxing circles. And the fact that it's too late and well past the sell by date won't matter a bit. Due to the way the boxing media has foolishly pushed on the public that Mayweather-Pacquiao is Ali-Frazier reincarnated, all Pacquiao has to do is win to stimulate the debate to a fever pitch again. Ever since Pacquiao was stopped by Marquez, boxing fans and writers have written Mayweather-Pacquiao off. I say it happens because Mayweather wants it. Pacquiao has always wanted it but because he wouldn't be bullied by “The Money Team” at the bargaining table, it never happened. I have no doubt that Mayweather will again force Manny to jump through hoops to try and make the fight a reality this time. Only this time I think they'll make it happen. Call it a hunch.
If you're one of those fans dying to see Mayweather-Pacquiao, keep your fingers crossed that Pacquiao beats Rios this coming November. And it would really help if he looked spectacular doing it. Yes, Mayweather-Pacquiao is a fight that is alive and in the making until one of them retires before it happens.
As of 2013 that hasn't happened.
Frank Lotierzo can be reached at GlovedFist@Gmail.com