All signs point to Mayweather-Pacquiao II, whether we want it or not – Yahoo Sports

LAS VEGAS – The crowd stood, thousands roared, and believe me: It wasn’t because of anything Oscar Valdez was doing. Midway through the final undercard fight on Saturday, minutes before Manny Pacquiao was set to hit the ring, Floyd Mayweather rolled into the Thomas & Mack Center, his daughter, Iyanna, by his side, his entourage in tow. A day earlier Mayweather had declared that the door was wide open for a ring return; now, here he was, letting the world know who he wanted to return against.

Mayweather-Pacquiao II is likely coming folks, and there isn’t much we can do to stop it. Some 18 months have passed since Mayweather decisioned Pacquiao, and we still can’t get the stink off. The most anticipated fight in decades was a dud, and boxing is still paying the price. Pay-per-view numbers have cratered, and the casual fans that Mayweather-Pacquiao was supposed to attract to the sport have turned against it. Kevin Durant turning heel and going to Golden State last summer has nothing on the emotional swing felt before and after the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.

So we’re going to do it again? Mayweather says often: He doesn’t watch much boxing. Vegas-based, you likely won’t catch Mayweather at a show unless he has a financial stake in it. Sin City has been Pacquiao’s home fighting base for years, and Mayweather has never bothered to come near his events. Yet last week, Top Rank’s phone rang, and a Mayweather rep asked about coming to the fight. And there was Mayweather, sharing hugs with Top Rank president Todd DuBoef, glad-handing event producer Brad Jacobs, exchanging pleasantries with Top Rank’s handpicked announcing team. This night had a purpose, and its purpose was to declare he was coming back.

But against Pacquiao? Even after Pacquiao’s convincing win over Jessie Vargas — a predictably one-sided affair that did little for Pacquiao other than generate a $4 million paycheck — no one is saying Pacquiao is the best opponent available. There’s far more intrigue in Mayweather returning against the winner of the welterweight unification fight between Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia scheduled for early next year. Similarly, a Pacquiao-Terence Crawford matchup is more appealing than Pacquiao going back in against Mayweather in a fight he can’t win.

And let’s be clear: Pacquiao can’t win. A bum shoulder and an absent painkiller are convenient excuses for the fact that, against Mayweather, Pacquiao is outclassed. Mayweather turns 40 in February, he has not fought in over a year but would anyone make him anything but a prohibitive favorite in a Pacquiao rematch? It remains one of the great sports tragedies that these two legends didn’t meet in 2009, when Mayweather was untouchable and Pacquiao couldn’t find an opponent who could go the distance with him.

That fight might have been good.

This one? Not so much.

Pacquiao is still a warrior, and it’s downright remarkable that a fighter who has absorbed as much punishment as he has in his career can still compete at this level. But five years ago Vargas would have been lunchmeat, a solid champion who could never stand up to Pacquiao’s relentless attack. He’s David Diaz, a competent titleholder who ran into the Pacquiao wrecking ball in 2008. Except this version went the distance, with a slower, not-quite-as-powerful version of Pacquiao unable to put him down.

Pacquiao can’t beat Mayweather, he won’t beat Mayweather, yet the fight will likely happen because promoters believe fight fans are morons, because a rematch that does half the business of the first one will still rank as one of the most lucrative pay-per-views in boxing history. Mayweather-Pacquiao generated 4.6 million buys, a $72 million gate and north of $400 million in revenue, and promoters are convinced that a significant chunk of that cash is still out there if the two tango again.

So get ready to hear about the searing pain in Pacquiao’s shoulder, the (temporary) healing powers of painkillers, how Pacquiao’s position as a senator in the Philippines has sharpened his focus, how Mayweather’s yearlong vacation has dulled his. Bob Arum rattled off a lengthy list of possible Pacquiao opponents on Saturday, from Keith Thurman to Danny Garcia, from Crawford to ex-Olympic legend Vasyl Lomachenko. But if Top Rank has its wish, that list will be whittled to one. Pacquiao-Mayweather II is coming, and an all too predictable outcome with it.

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