By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) – The sell-by date has long since expired. By now, it’s been stale for at least five years. Yet, there are many that still await and clamor for a showdown between pound-for-pound best Floyd Mayweather and fan-favorite Manny Pacquiao.
What broached the talk?
Pacquiao’s annihilation of a there-to-be-hit Brandon Rios over the weekend at some place called The Venetian casino in Macau, China. It was a lopsided beating all intended to put Pacquiao back in the consciousness of the buying boxing public and to convince those still hoping against hope that Mayweather and Pacquiao will finally meet.
If it happens, it wouldn’t generate the kind of record-breaking numbers a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight would have if the fight took place in 2008, when Pacquiao was at his prime and held some faint possibility of beating Mayweather.
Now, the 36-year-old Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) would crush the 34-year-old Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs), who’s lost two of his last four fights—one a stunning knockout loss to a suddenly re-invented Juan Manuel Marquez.
Beating Rios doesn’t nor shouldn’t change the reality that in the last three years “Pac-Man’s” lightning-fast reflexes have diminished. He doesn’t have the hand speed nor the quickness to contend with Mayweather, who wouldn’t be there to be so easily hit as Rios was.
His attitude toward boxing has waned, too. Pacquiao once lived and breathed boxing. He lives and breathes everything from politics to commercials now. Boxing seems to have distanced itself on his priority list.
Also, the style matchup between Mayweather and Pacquiao is quite simple to imagine. Pacquiao would be lunging and loading up trying to nail Mayweather with a fight-changing punch, and Mayweather would slide away, leaving Pacquiao flailing at air and exposed to counter punches all night.
There may even be an occasion or two when Pacquiao swings so hard at nothing that he falls on his face.
In time, Pacquiao would grow frustrated, unable to catch Mayweather, and in the later rounds, Mayweather would close the distance, use his superior speed and agility to get inside and pepper Pacquiao with jabs and counters.
It would be painful to watch. Not only aesthetically, but the competitive level would be deflated seconds after the opening bell.
Pacquiao has had a magnificent, 62-fight Hall of Fame career. There’s no disputing that. But even at his height, after stomping on the enervated Oscar De La Hoya in December 2008, Pacquiao still wouldn’t have been able to beat Mayweather. The fight, then, would have been closer, because Pacquaio would have been sharper, his punches more accurate.
Now, after a controversial loss to Tim Bradley, and suffering the frightening knockout loss to Marquez in December 2012, it’s really hard to believe that Pac-Man has rehabilitated himself that quickly.
Many are taking great stock in Pacquiao’s victory against human punching bag Rios. It’s worthless stock.
Adding drama to one of the greatest fights to never happen is the fact that Mayweather is promoted by De La Hoya’s Golden Boy and is locked into two more years with Showtime, while Pacquiao is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Golden Boy’s bitter rival and is locked into HBO.
The feud runs deep between Golden Boy and Top Rank, so cavernous that the two promotional giants refuse to let their fighters go against each other.
It’s why Pacquiao has fought strictly Top Rank fighters the last two years (Shane Mosley, who signed with Top Rank, Juan Manuel Marquez (2), Tim Bradley and Rios); and why Mayweather has fought exclusively Golden Boy fighters (Saul Alvarez, Robert Guerrero, Miguel Cotto, who signed with Golden Boy, and Victor Ortiz) during that same time.
There’s no bending with Arum or Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer. Consequently, there won’t be any bending with Pacquiao and Mayweather. It is a fight that could still amass record-breaking numbers. But there is a great chance it will turn into all of the other Mayweather fights—a virtuoso performance by a master at the top of his game, pounding on a smaller, shopworn legend who never had a chance to begin with.
Five years ago, it’s a fight. But somewhere from then until now, Pac-Man has aged and put far more corrosion on his body than the unhittable Mayweather, who faced the best 154-pounder in the world in Alvarez and won every second of every round. The Pacquiao apologists, and there are many still fixated on Pac-Man circa 2008, will cry and whine trying to convince the unwashed that this isn’t true.
But deep down, Pac-Man knows it is. Everyone in boxing knows it.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly and a feature writer for Ring Magazine and RingTV.com.