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Please Put the Brakes on the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao Conversation

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COMMENTARY | Manny Pacquiao is back. Well, sort of.

After suffering the most devastating loss of his career courtesy of the knockout punch delivered by Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao bounced back with a strong performance against Brandon Rios.

And, with that, the conversation for the proposed super fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather has started all over again. But is it really warranted?

Manny Pacquiao is still the most intriguing opponent out there for Floyd Mayweather. But the talent gulf between the two fighters may be wider than it ever has been since the conversation initially started several years ago. Pacquiao still has more to prove before we give this fight serious consideration.

The Pacquiao from 2009 is different than the one we saw against Rios. Yes, he still possesses the unique combination of speed and power that mystifies most opponents. However, he is far removed from being the savage that left the obliterated remains of fallen foes in his trail. When the negotiations for Pacquiao-Mayweather started after Pacquiao's scintillating victory over Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao had reeled off four consecutive stoppages against David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and the aforementioned Cotto. It wasn't that Pacquiao was winning; it was how he was tearing through the competition that left fight fans drooling for a showdown with the brilliant Mayweather.

During this time, Mayweather had just returned to the ring after a 21-month retirement and ran roughshod over Juan Manuel Marquez. Mayweather's calculated attack and deft defense was the antithesis of Pacquiao's chaotic assaults and curiosity piqued as to which fighter's style would reign supreme if the two met in the ring.

As we all are aware, negotiations broke down and the fight was more dream than reality. And when Pacquiao lost a disputed decision to Timothy Bradley, the fight was pushed further away from the grasp of reality. When Marquez flattened the Filipino last December, the balloon was popped. But now that Pacquiao has dominated Brandon Rios, the interest in the fight has been drummed up again.

However, this version of Pacquiao that seemed content to win a decision against a fighter that was tailor made for being brutalized isn't the man that will defeat Floyd Mayweather. Without that ruthless approach, there is reason to believe that Mayweather could pick Pacquiao apart easier than he could against a Pacquiao who was a whirlwind of punches that had opponents reluctant to engage. Being cautious is no way to beat Floyd Mayweather.

Truth be told, the list of intriguing fights for Pacquiao is longer than Mayweather's and there is no reason to believe that this fight has any chance of happening in the near future. That is, unless Mayweather begs for it because there isn't another opponent out there that the boxing community gives a decent chance at usurping the pound for pound king. And we all know he won't do that. He doesn't need to.

Pacquiao looked convincing against Brandon Rios but when you read between the lines, there are still questions that need to be answered. In Rios, Pacquiao found a slower fighter who came forward and had a knack for tacking one on the chin. He didn't possess the counterpunching ability to offset Pacquiao's advances nor the footwork to get out of the way. All Rios had in his favor a puncher's chance, and once that dissolved in the early rounds, the fight was smooth sailing for Pacquiao.

Rios is a very good fighter, but we have to remember that he was granted this fight after losing a decision to Mike Alvarado, who was recently stopped by Ruslan Provodnikov. Provodnikov just so happens to share a trainer with Pacquiao in Freddie Roach and served as the Filipino's chief sparring partner ahead of Pacquiao's fight with Timothy Bradley. If Rios struggled with Alvarado, who was wiped out by Provodnikov, then we have to wonder how much of a challenge this really was for Manny Pacquiao.

For Pacquiao, all roads don't lead to Mayweather. Aside from the nagging promotional and network cold war that has always been in the way, Pacquiao simply doesn't need a Mayweather fight right now. There are several paths he can take that are justifiable and fans wouldn't disagree with. The obvious two are rematches with Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez. It makes sense to avenge those losses. The other fight is against Provodnikov, and that battle has "Fight of the Year" written all over it. It is only after Pacquiao earns wins against these opponents that a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight would reach the demand that it once had.

But right now, the conversation is far too premature for anyone to give credence to.

Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets, including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others.

You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
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