It's no secret that WBO Welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (54-3-2) is considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. However, as he prepares to put one of his eight current titles on the line against legitimate contender Timothy Bradley (28-0), the possibility of a dream bout with Floyd Mayweather continues to follow him like a shadow.
It is the real fight the public wants to see. A fight analyzed, hypothesized and criticized before the first letters of a contract have been put on paper, before the two sides can even begin to agree upon how to split what will surely be an astronomical purse of Mega Millions jackpot proportions.
With no shortage of opinions across the boxing landscape, it is one of the most polarizing situations in sports. So much so that in the days leading up to the title fight between Pacquiao and Bradley, Floyd Mayweather's name is still very much present. Freddie Roach, who has been Pacquiao's trainer since 2001, feels people are beginning to accept the fact that a potential fight with Mayweather may never happen.
"That was the number one question at one time, but now I think people are getting tired of it," said Roach, before stating that he still wants to see the two champions step into the ring. "Every big fight in the history of boxing has happened," he added. "I hope they do it before it's too late."
The great Manny Pacquiao himself, eight-time world champion, singer, actor and Filipino congressman, is also happy to share his thoughts on the potential fight.
"Even my children have requested that fight," he stated. "I'm satisfied with what I've done. If that fight happens or not, I'm still happy," said Pacquiao, with a look suggesting he will always want to settle things with Mayweather.
Still, many people in boxing, namely those with the power to make fights happen, are confident the two best boxers of this generation will eventually come to terms. Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels, who has been promoting fights for nearly 30 years, is not shy to say he expects to see Pacquiao and Mayweather collide.
"I think we're going to see that fight," he said, "Pacquiao has told [Top Rank CEO] Bob Arum to get it done."
Samuels would go on to explain a current proposal in which each side would receive 45 percent of the purse, with the final 10 percent going to the winner. Not a bad number for either camp, considering the fact this could be the first ever fight to reach a total prize of $200 million.
Though both Pacquiao and Mayweather (who currently sits in jail on domestic battery charges) have stated they want to make the fight happen, the two sides will still need to come to an agreement first.
"Obviously Mayweather is the guy we want," said Roach. "If it's doable we'll do it, and if not, we'll find some undefeated guy out there who thinks he can beat us."
Enter Timothy Bradley, the brash, undefeated 28 year old who has pushed himself to the limits of training, even restructuring his diet to be a dedicated vegan as he prepares for Pacquiao. With a WBO Light Welterweight belt already to his name, his goal is not just to take down Manny Pacquiao and solidify himself as boxing's next big name, but also to ensure Pacquiao and Mayweather never get the opportunity to give fans what they want.
"The fight will never happen," Bradley confidently stated when asked for his thoughts on a Pacquiao and Mayweather bout.
In his ideal world, Bradley will defeat Pacquiao and begin setting his own path to Floyd Mayweather, but that is not his concern right now. Despite being a clear underdog according to Vegas handicappers, Bradley's eyes light up when asked about his title fight with Manny Pacquiao on June 9, and he understands what lies in front of him.
"If I pull this off, I'm a bad dude," declared Bradley. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
While a potential fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather may be the pinnacle of boxing's modern era, Timothy Bradley will still have his shot at the WBO Welterweight crown on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
With an assured smile, Bradley shows he is nothing if not prepared. "See you on June 9th," he said, winking at the camera. "That's it. See you on June 9th, baby."