Once upon a time, there was a fight that was going to transcend boxing. It was going to pit the two best boxers of their generation in a gargantuan battle reminiscent of Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier or Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield.
It was recognized as a potential matchup that would not only break every monetary record in the book, but also one that would cure the boxing population's insatiable hunger for a high-profile superfight that would return the sport to its glory days.
But with each clinic put on by Floyd Mayweather and each step back from Manny Pacquiao, the potential Fight of the Century begins to look more like an unlikely event.
The appeal of May-Pac resided in the fact that these boxers were undoubtedly the two greatest pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Around the end of 2011, "Money" was fresh off an albeit controversial fourth-round KO of Victor Ortiz that pushed his unblemished record to 42-0. "Pac-Man," meanwhile, had just knocked off Juan Manuel Marquez—his greatest opponent outside of Mayweather—for the second time to move to 54-3-2. He had only lost once since the turn of the century—and he had already avenged that loss twice with knockout victories over Erik Morales.
These were the two axiomatic giants of the sport, and it wasn't close. Of course, the thought of letting them duke it out for 12 rounds for the title of best fighter on the planet was tantalizing.
But how quickly things change.
In the last year, Mayweather has proven that a jail sentence had zero effect on his otherworldly speed, elusiveness and defense, putting together near-perfect efforts against Robert Guerrero and Saul Alvarez—the latter an offensive machine who was supposed to give Mayweather the greatest test of his career.
At 36, Money is seemingly aging to perfection. He is impenetrable and only further entrenching himself as one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Pacquiao, however, is moving in the opposite direction.
In 2012, he lost to Timothy Bradley—"lost" being a relative term there, considering it was widely regarded as one of the worst decisions ever—and was subsequently knocked out by Marquez.
As the 34-year-old continues to focus more on his political career, BWAA's Fighter of the Decade looks less like a formidable opponent for Mayweather.
Perhaps a decisive win over Brandon Rios in November will change things, but as it stands, the image of Pacquiao face down on the mat from last December is ingrained in our minds. He is fading, and Mayweather is rolling.
To be fair, Pac-Man still has the offensive arsenal and veteran intelligence to find a way through Mayweather's brick wall better than anyone before him, but the discrepancies in effectiveness and talent are expeditiously growing
Failed negotiations and a seemingly endless list of sky-high hurdles originally prevented the superfight from happening, but decreasing interest may keep it from even re-entering the conversation.