COMMENTARY | Even before Manny Pacquiao cruised past Brandon Rios on November 23 in his first fight in nearly a year, there was already speculation, self-generated by Top Rank head-honcho Bob Arum, that Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather could still fight.
So, yet again, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is back on the radar. The fighters and their teams blew it by not having the fight several years ago, missing out on the perfect window which would have made the fight truly one of the biggest in the sport's modern history. So if Mayweather vs. Pacquiao happens in 2014, is it too late, or is it better late than never?
It's hard to believe, but it was exactly four years ago that a fight between the sport's two superstars was in discussion. Manny Pacquiao was coming off a dominant win over Miguel Cotto on November 14, 2009, and was at his absolute peak. The performance legitimized him as not only a pound for pound great, but a real Welterweight, and the sport's most captivating fighter.
Mayweather, meanwhile, had just dismantled Juan Manuel Marquez two months prior on September 19, making easy work out of Pacquiao's arch-rival. Prior to that though Mayweather had been on the shelf enjoying a mini-retirement for two years.
It was during that period when Pacquiao usurped Mayweather's status as the number 1 pound for pound fighter on the planet -- unless you were one of those folks who supported Joe Calzaghe's claim.
The timing couldn't have been better. The fight could not have been bigger. The two best pound for pound fighters in the world, in the same weight class, at or near their physical primes, with the public entirely split on which man would prevail. Each man would have pocketed $50 million before they even tallied up the pay-per-view numbers, which would have shattered any and all records.
But they blew it. Egos, pride, greed, and drug tests, all derailed the fight, robbing boxing fans of what should have been this generation's most marquee and historically significant match.
Of course, in the Sweet Science, it's not at all unusual for great fights to fizzle and be removed from discussion only to come back to the forefront years later and sizzle.
Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns didn't have their rematch for nearly eight years after their first epic encounter. Sugar Ray's third fight against Roberto Duran took nine years to be made. Think about how long it took for Mike Tyson to share the ring with Evander Holyfield, and Lennox Lewis.
So here we are, four years past its ideal point, and maybe the fight gets made. With Pacquiao's reduced status following that crushing KO defeat against Marquez, the negotiating process of splitting up the purse and figuring out other logistics should be easier. Drug testing, while still a dicey subject in boxing, is more well established and should also be easier to hash out than it was four years ago.
Pacquiao and his team also have nothing to lose. They'd come into the fight as the clear underdog, and as such, a loss doesn't really do them any harm, while a win would be even more monumental than it would have been before. On the other side of things, Mayweather would get to stamp the Pacquiao name on his ledger, and none of his naysayers would be able to say he never faced his biggest challenger.
Already, fans are beginning to debate the fight once again and speculate on whether or not it will finally happen. Already, Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach has been quoted saying he believes Pacquiao's speed would overwhelm Mayweather. Stir that pot, Freddie!
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is four years too late. That makes it just about right on time for boxing.
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