LAS VEGAS – It was a brief flurry of words that was either the start of the best thing that boxing could wish for or yet another disappointment in a sad series of false dawns.
Floyd Mayweather hinted on Saturday night that he might be finally ready to give boxing the fight it craves above all else by insisting he was ready to open negotiations over a showdown with Manny Pacquiao.
After totally dominating his rematch against Marcos Maidana in a unanimous 12-round decision at the MGM Grand, Mayweather suggested the two biggest draws in the sport could meet at last, more than six years after such a bout was first discussed.
"Let's make it happen," Mayweather said when asked by Showtime's Jim Gray. "Pacquiao needs to focus on the guy in front of him. Once he gets past that test, let's see what the future holds."
Pacquiao fights relative unknown Chris Algieri in Macau on Nov. 22 and Mayweather has indicated he will compete again in May. For all Maidana's pluck, any neutral fan in his right mind would prefer to see Mayweather take on Pacquiao rather than either man face off with outmatched rivals.
But, just like those who forked out $75 for Saturday's pay-per-view might have felt short-changed by the lack of a meaningful contest, there is a danger that those who become too enamored with early talk of a Mayweather-Pacquiao superfight could end up nursing similar emotions.
Hopeful supporters have fallen deep for the promise and expectation in the past, most notably in 2009, when contracts seemed ready to be inked before it all collapsed amid acrimony and politics.
Just as it did then, such a letdown could quite easily happen again, if indeed negotiations even get started to begin with.
First, the context in which Mayweather made his remarks should be scrutinized. "Money" says he prides himself on putting on a show, and frankly, this wasn't much of one. As his in-ring interview with Gray began, he was resoundingly booed by those fans remaining – plenty had already voted with their feet and streamed out into the Las Vegas night before the final bell.
Maybe he meant it and the political machinations needed to bridge the fight game's great divide can get underway. Or maybe it was a neat way to end the broadcast, a ploy and no more, the pugilistic equivalent of a network drama cliffhanger that aims to ensure viewers are hungrily anticipating the next stanza.
Only Mayweather knows the legitimacy of his stated intention but there must be a fair chance that it was an empty promise, an easy one to make, and one that he may never have to deliver on.
He survived not fighting Pacquiao before, making a case for other contenders that didn't contend and challengers that couldn't put up a challenge. He can do so again, if he wants.
Given that he got $32 million for fighting Maidana and just as much for the first meeting, such easy pickings may be too tempting to turn down, especially if he feels that Pacquiao offers far greater risk, albeit for extra fiscal spoils.
Sure, there is a perception that Mayweather now is running out of options and would find the pool of potential opponents even slimmer if he takes on Amir Khan next, and not Pacquiao.
Some apathy regarding his appeal, especially given his controversial personal issues including yet another allegation of domestic violence, may be setting in. Pay-per-view numbers for Saturday will be released over the coming days, but the speculation in Las Vegas is that the numbers will be disappointing, well under a million buys.
Something new, something fresh, seems to be needed. Something like Pacquiao.
"That's what we will look to do in May," said Mayweather's manager Leonard Ellerbe. "Of course you have hope because it is all about giving the fans what they want to see."
Except that it's not. Sometimes it is about giving the fans what they want to hear. Mayweather did that on Saturday. Whether that tantalizing possibility follows through into reality remains as much in limbo as ever.