Manny Pacquiao has his hands full with this November’s fight against Brandon Rios. That being said, he’s also made it clear on numerous occasions over the past few months that he is keeping a very close eye on what is going on with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. While Mayweather has taken the official position that he is done contemplating a super fight with his one-time rival, Pacquiao has taken the opposite stand. He wants Mayweather. And if boxing’s biggest star can emerge from next weekend’s showdown unscathed, the calls for Mayweather-Pacquiao will only get louder.
Pacquiao and Mayweather are at interesting points in their careers right now. Both have achieved pretty much everything there is to achieve in the sport. Both are richer than they ever thought they would be. Both have complex domestic situations that they’re constantly trying to work through. And both aren’t exactly sure what they’re fighting for anymore.
Let’s assume Pacquiao beats Rios this November. What does that prove, exactly? That’s he’s still one of the best pound-for-pounders in the world? That’s he’s one of the greatest of all time? That he’s the best fighter around? The truth is, it won’t change anything. People’s perceptions of the Filipino star are locked into place. If you like him, you’ll like him after this bout. If you don’t, you won’t. Similarly, it’s hard to envision much changing in the aftermath of Mayweather-Alvarez. If the latter wins, people who like Mayweather will chalk it up to him getting old and not being afraid to fight quality challengers. If he loses, then people who like Mayweather will say he proved yet again why he’s the world’s best boxer and people who don’t will say Alvarez was overrated.
For all intents and purposes, the book on Mayweather and Pacquiao is already written.
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Unless they fight each other, of course. For all the talk about how nobody wants to see this match-up anymore, if it were to happen, even with Mayweather and Pacquiao wheezing around the ring, shells of their former selves, it would be the biggest thing in boxing history. It would have clear and inarguable ramifications for both of their legacies. Most importantly, though, it would probably pump some lives back into their careers.
Pacquiao will be watching next weekend’s bout very closely. He’d be willing to fight Mayweather no matter what, but having the opportunity to be the one to change that zero into a one would sweeten the pot for him more than any amount of purse money ever could.