Boxing/MMA

Floyd Mayweather Jr. Confirms: 'Manny Pacquiao is Next'

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I want to believe Floyd Mayweather Jr. 

When he says "Yes, you're next" about Manny Pacquaio being his next opponent after Victor Ortiz, I absolutely want to believe him.

Because for two years, these grand gladiators have ducked and dodged, accused and avoided. They've found every excuse not to fight each other. It was blood tests, tougher blood tests, steroid accusations, court appearances, smack-talking uncles, video rants, racist barbs... I could go on. 

But now Mayweather has stepped up and -- finally -- verbally committed to the only fight everybody wants. Call it the biggest fight of the young 21st century.

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

"When Pacquiao defeats my leftovers, you guys praise him," Mayweather told reporters. "All he's fought are Floyd Mayweather's leftovers. When he beat Cotto, he wasn't at the top of his game. He was already beaten up from a guy who had to put a cast in his hand (Antonio Margarito). Pacquiao beat a drained Oscar De La Hoya. I respect Pacquiao for fighting my leftovers."We only want to fight the biggest and the best out there, and Manny Pacquiao, yes, you're next," said Mayweather.

Sure, the declaration was mixed with trash talk. But boxing needs some good (real) trash talk. Boxing needs Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his brash, cocky attitude. And boxing needs the charismatic Manny Pacquaio and his furious fists.

But what boxing needs most of all -- to remind us just how exciting the sport can be on its best nights -- is a fight between these two men. It needs the build-up, the hype, the stare downs at press conferences and ultimately the electric rounds of greatness vs. greatness.

Mayweather vs. Pacquaio has looked like an impossible dream for the past 12 months, but now it's actually inching closer to a reality. 

With these recent words, Mayweather has now gone on the record twice, saying he will fight the Filipino champion. If he backs out, he will be called a liar. He'll lose the respect of everyone. Mayweather is too good and too talented for that. He has too much pride.

If Pacquaio doesn't agree, we all know he's ducking.

But something tells me Pacman won't duck. As his career gets close to the finish line, too many have (rightfully) questioned his recent choice of opponents, and he knows if he wants to be fully accepted by the American boxing scene -- which still counts for something huge in terms of crowning true champions -- he must face Mayweather or risk a permanent asterisk on his record.

Mayweather says Pacquiao is next.

Man, I really want to believe him.