Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao is "the fight" for boxing. It's the one that gets the conversation going, no matter how big of a boxing fan someone is. And it's the fight that everyone wants to talk about yet again on the heels of Floyd's tremendous win over Miguel Cotto this past Saturday.
"It HAS to happen! It WILL happen!" fans and media shout. But no, unfortunately it does not have to happen and it almost certainly will not happen. It should happen. But the very money that everyone claims makes the fight "worth it" for the fighters is why it's not worth it to the fighters or promoters. Years of fighting without losing and making a lot of money each time out with the claim of being the "real" best pound-for-pound fighter outweigh one fight that would involve working with hated rivals and significantly diminishing the value of the loser.
But to make clear how long the shadow of that potential fight is, with "Money" having just gotten the win in a spirited fight, becoming the 154 pound champion of the world, HBO's Larry Merchant interviewed Floyd and immediately asked him about fighting Pacquiao.
It's inescapable really. Floyd and Manny are tied together for eternity at this point, regardless of if they fight or not. If they never fight, both men's careers will be spoken of with a "but" while if they do fight, the result of the fight will define both legacies. It will be at the center of interviews with both men thirty years down the road.
Unless, of course, one of them loses in the next year.
I've not been shy about my prediction that Manny Pacquiao will lose to Timothy Bradley. Unlike some of my more awful predictions based on gut feelings, this is based more on cold, hard logic. Bradley is completely different from Manny's recent competition. He's young, undefeated, willing to fight a little bit dirty, able to make adjustments on the fly and very technically sound.
Over the past four years Pacquiao has fought David Diaz who wasn't really elite level, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton in their last career fights, Miguel Cotto when he was still haunted by the Margarito fight, Joshua Clottey who was coming off a loss and didn't come to do anything but cover up, a shell of Antonio Margarito, a shell of Shane Mosley and a very old (but still very good) Juan Manuel Marquez who I still think deserved the decision nod over Manny.
If Pacquiao goes out and loses his June 9 bout with Bradley, everyone can move on. Mayweather will never shut up about how he didn't waste his time with Pacquiao and how Manny couldn't ever beat Marquez and then lost to Bradley. It'd be Floyd's ultimate checkmate. He'd be worth all the money and Manny wouldn't be worth even the "insulting" $40 million offer Mayweather made him in their last round of negotiations.
Floyd can win the battle without ever having to step in the ring with his rival if Bradley gets the job done. And that's the only way either man is going to win, because they're never going to actually fight.