The out-of-ring gamesmanship between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. would be a thing of beauty if it hadn’t already gotten so stale by this point.
If you were to trace back this fight-that-hasn’t-happened back to its roots, you could see little games being played on both sides from the very beginning – with both Pacquiao and Mayweather trying to mess with the other’s minds for sport.
First Mayweather, out of the blue, decided he wanted more stringent drug testing for the, what was then deemed, “inevitable” super fight versus Pacquiao.
Pacquiao, in turn, responded with some mind games of his own. He rejected Mayweather’s incessant drug testing requests all the way up until the point at which Floyd was at his wit’s end, and then Pacman suddenly agreed. That should’ve been the end of it but, of course, it wasn’t. Mayweather, angry that he wasn’t getting the fight on his terms, randomly raised the drug testing standards to an even higher standard, a move that Pacquiao would later scoff at.
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And so on and so forth, down the line, you could look back at the history of this dream fight that never was and see both fighters refusing to give in to one another – attempting to capture any mental advantage that they could possibly get over the other.
Now, in a recent interview with KO Boxing, Pacquiao opted to send another message to his arch rival:
“I'm not gonna stay long in boxing. A couple of fights and I will stop boxing. I will focus to serve people,” he said.
Translation: Fight me now or, forever hold your peace.
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Pacquiao seems more or less secure with his legacy. Over the past few years he has eclipsed Mayweather as the best-for-pound fighter in essentially everyone’s eyes, and barring some unspeakable catastrophe against Juan Manuel Marquez in November, it’ll stay that way.
Mayweather can fight Victor Ortiz, and he can fight whoever else he wants, but unless he finds a way to get into the ring with the Filipino champ, his legacy will forever be tainted. Right or wrong, he’s viewed as a ducker at this point, and the only thing that can change that perception is a bout with Pacquiao.
A master of understanding public perception, Pacquiao realizes all of this. Mind you, this isn’t the first time in recent weeks that he’s discussed his boxing mortality and legacy.
He realizes that he can retire at any point to pursuit what many deem his higher calling public service, and still go down in history as a better fighter than Mayweather without ever having to fight him. And that’s the message he’s trying to send to Mayweather with all of this ratcheted up retirement talk in the last few weeks.
Pacquiao’s days in the sport are numbered, and he isn’t trying to keep it a secret. He’s spelling it out loud and clear to Mayweather – your unblemished record is worthless if one of those victories doesn’t come against me.
Will Mayweather finally get it?
Only time will tell.