COMMENTARY | There's no shortage of points and counterpoints in the seemingly endless Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao debate. At this point, it's not even a matter of who would win in the ring. The biggest, most heated debate has to do with why this fight hasn't happened and who, exactly, is to blame for boxing's biggest money fight being allowed to wither on the vine, well out of the reach of a rabidly eager fan base.
Pacquiao fans will blame Mayweather for creating the obstacle of random blood testing in their only face to face negotiations and for a general dismissive ambivalence about the fight after talks broke down. Mayweather fans will blame Pacquiao for allowing those initial talks to break down and for disingenuous tactics when it came to the information they released to the media during these last several years.
Whatever the case, it appears as though Mayweather now legitimately believes that Pacquiao, as an opponent, is at least one full level beneath him and somewhat irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
"You know, like I said before, they were just talking about this guy needs to retire after he got knocked out," Mayweather recently said in a radio interview. "Now he comes and gets a win over Brandon Rios and they say, you know what, Pacquiao is back. You're going to get that in the sport of boxing. Like I said before, he's 1 and 2 in his last 3 fights, and my last 45 fights, I'm 45 and 0.
"Once again, he's 1 and 2 in his last 3 fights. Let's make this make sense. You look at his pay-per-view numbers. Do your homework! You know, first you gotta do your homework. Look at my pay-per-view numbers, look at his pay-per-view numbers, and then you tell me what you come up with."
It's clear, though, that the boxing world doesn't agree with Mayweather's assessment. The vast majority of fans and media regard Pacquiao as, at worst, the second best welterweight in the world behind Mayweather and, at best, neck and neck with "Money" for top dog honors. Money-wise, despite his recent dip in PPV buys, Pacquiao is still one of the two biggest money generators in the sport. Call him a solid no.2 if you like, but nobody's closer to Mayweather, in all areas of the sport, than Pacquiao.
Whether Mayweather likes this statement of facts or not, it's what the public believes and it's the reason that the five-division world champ will never really be able to distance himself from his Filipino eight-division champ nemesis.
And as long as there's no fight, there will always be the question of whether Mayweather was actually better than Pacquiao. The true believers will raise the Mayweather banner no matter what, but not the general boxing public and not the media, who will rightfully point out the major piece of unfinished business in Mayweather's career.
Because Floyd Mayweather now sits in the driver's seat when it comes to drawing power and recent level of accomplishment, he will also bear the burden of guilt when history closes the book on the Mayweather-Pacquiao debacle.
Whether correct or incorrect, the picture will be painted of a gallant Pacquiao chasing a reluctant Mayweather. Considering the realities of the situation, this would not be a totally accurate or fair summary of the last several years of Floyd-Manny madness, but this is how history will record it.
To fix this, Mayweather has to swallow some pride and publicly reach out to Team Pacquiao to make this fight happen. Then, if Pacquiao's side still hems and haws and tries to play sleight of hand games with public opinion rather than fight, the world will know the truth.
Until then, Mayweather stands to lose more, in terms of legacy and recognition, than Pacquiao if the mega-bout doesn't happen.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and is the author of Notes from the Boxing Underground. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.