Given how many times Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. got fans' hopes up regarding a potential super fight only to disappoint, you certainly can’t fault folks for being wary of more speculation. That being said, the idea of these two squaring off isn’t as ludicrous as Mayweather made it sound during his appearance on CBS this past Saturday.
At halftime of this weekend’s Louisville-Wichita State game, Mayweather appeared with Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and the rest of the crew to discuss all things basketball and boxing. He briefly touted Robert Guerrero as a legitimate foe, he talked a little hoops (although, interestingly, he refused to make a Michigan-Syracuse prediction) and he praised the network’s executives for giving him his massive new television deal with Showtime.
At one point, Doug Gottlieb asked Mayweather if he was ever going to fight Pacquiao.
"Manny Pacquiao got a lot of hurdles to get over to get to Floyd Mayweather," Mayweather replied. "He just got two back-to-back losses. I tried to make the fight to happen.
He then offered his trademark excuse for why this bout never came together: "The only thing I was asking for was random blood and urine testing just to show the world the sport of boxing is a clean sport."
Putting aside the drug issue, because that was resolved a long time ago, let’s go back to all of those hurdles Mayweather mentioned. In reality, Pacquiao has one hurdle to get over: Juan Manuel Marquez. So long as he can avenge last December’s loss, the former eight division champ will be right back where he was prior to that Timothy Bradley defeat that nobody really considers a defeat. He will once again be one of boxing’s big name stars, and he will still command the sort of money that is only rivaled by Mayweather himself.
Now, here is why Mayweather-Pacquiao will likely happen at some point if the latter manages to get past Marquez: Mayweather needs opponents. As part of his Showtime deal, the undefeated superstar is basically required to fight twice per year for the foreseeable future. Once he’s done with Guerrero, Mayweather’s options will be: Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez/Austin Trout, Devon Alexander and maybe Amir Khan if he gets past Julio Diaz and avenges the Danny Garcia loss shortly thereafter. That’s three foes, at best – each of whom are noticeably younger than Mayweather.
Pacquiao, 34, presents Mayweather with the ideal opportunity to fill one of his many upcoming fight dates with someone whose name recognition is similar to his own, and who doesn’t pose as big a risk as some of the other alternatives. Remember: if Mayweather loses even once, his appeal decreases substantially. It is far more advantageous for him to stack easier fights one on top of the other in the early part of the Showtime contract, and then to do his legacy fights against Canelo-types later on when it will have less of an impact on his bottom line.
A Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown is not unlikely, it simply hinges on the Filipino star beating Marquez this year. If he can’t do that, though, then this entire discussion is moot.