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Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: How two of boxing's biggest stars wasted a great rivalry

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: How two of boxing's biggest stars wasted a great rivalry
News of talks between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao's respective camps has fueled rumors of a big-money rematch, four years after their disappointing first fight. The big question now is does anybody still care?

Back in the early 2000's, a Mayweather-Pacquiao matchup would have been the biggest – and best – fight in boxing. Both men were in their prime, the debate was raging over who would win and there was genuine intrigue about the prospect of the pair facing off inside the ring.

But failed negotiations between the two fighters' respective teams and their inability to cut a suitable deal meant the fight didn't happen until it was too late. It meant that a rivalry that could – and perhaps should – have given the fans a memorable trilogy between two of boxing's all-time greats will instead go down as one of the biggest let-downs in boxing history.

After more than five years of 'will-they, won't-they' rumors and 'he-said, she-said' stories in the press, the fight finally came to fruition in 2015. By then Pacquiao's skills were starting to show signs of slowing and Mayweather's career had plateaued into cruise control as he eased to decision wins, rather than going for the sort of finishes that had been a feature of his earlier career.

In truth, the fight should have been made after Mayweather's stoppage win over Victor Ortiz back in 2011, but instead the fight - and Pacquiao - was left to stagnate until 2015, by which time the Filipino star's powers had started to show signs of decline.


By the time Mayweather and Pacquiao had put pen to paper on a bout agreement, the Filipino had gone nine fights without a stoppage win, and had lost twice during that spell, including a December 2012 knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez, who Mayweather had defeated on the scorecards three years earlier.

That loss was almost certainly the signal to Mayweather that the time was right and, after more lengthy negotiations, the fight was finally booked.

But when the pair finally met inside the ring, the most eagerly-anticipated fight since the Tyson era turned out to be a complete dud.

The fight failed to live up to expectations and is generally considered to be one of the biggest examples of a boxing match failing to live up to the pre-fight hype. Mayweather took the victory via unanimous decision in a largely uneventful 12 rounds with scores of 116-112, 116-112, 118-110.

It left fans feeling shortchanged and disappointed, and tarnished Mayweather's reputation in particular. The American has fought just twice in legitimate boxing contests, a 12-round decision over Andre Berto and a 10th-round stoppage of UFC star Conor McGregor, as he took his record to 50-0.


Most recently, Mayweather faced kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in a pointless exhibition bout in Tokyo that saw him knock down the hopelessly undersized and inexperienced Japanese star three times before the towel was thrown in.

Now it seems the seeds are being planted ahead of a possible rematch with Pacquiao. Maybe with both men at the end of their respective careers, the bout might make more sense as a sporting contest. But at this stage of their careers, and after stinging the public once with their way-too-late superfight, the public may be a little less excited at the prospect of a rematch.

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