THE most commonly asked question in boxing is will Floyd Mayweather be fighting Manny Pacquiao? It is a matchup that some of us had given up on, but the public has never quite been able to let go. Finally there is some serious daylight that their wish might actually come true.

This has nothing to do with giving the fans what they want or the fighters wanting to prove who’s the best. The two will finally get it on in 2015, because they have no other serious options available to them unless they want to take a risk that would far outweigh facing the other.

Of course nothing is guaranteed here. They can both continue to play the blame game, but at this point the public does not care who is at fault.

Just the mere fact that Pacquiao is boxing Chris Algieri – on November 22 – is a telltale sign that he has run out of viable options in which to garner the lucrative paydays he has become accustomed to. And don’t think that his promoter Bob Arum has not come to that realisation. Outside of a possible fifth meeting with Juan Manuel Marquez, there are no mega fights that can be made for Pacquiao.

Even the Marquez fight is slowly fading into the category of longshot. For one, the Mexican is seriously contemplating retirement. For him to consider another match with Pacquiao, Marquez would have to be paid significantly more than he was for their past encounters. And for that to happen Pacquiao would have to be paid significantly less. That would be unacceptable to Pacquiao whose status still dwarfs Marquez’s, Juan Manuel’s knockout victory over him in their last fight withstanding. Besides, it would have been Marquez and not Algieri facing Pacquiao in China, had the rivals been able to come to terms. If it did not happen in the recent negotiation, then the book is rapidly closing on it ever occurring.

It has gotten to the point in Pacquiao’s career where Arum is ready to cash out. Outside of Marquez, Top Rank Inc. has no one under their promotional banner who Pacquiao could face that would make financial sense. The only way that could happen would be if the Filipino agreed to be paid substantially less than he has been over the years. As fond as Pacquiao is of Arum, that won’t happen. And as fond as Bob is of Manny, he likes his bottom line even more.

As for Mayweather, he does have at least one monster fight available to him in the form of Gennady Golovkin who would be willing to go down to light-middleweight to make the match happen. If Mayweather should fight and decisively defeat Pacquiao that doubtless would be the fight everyone would start to clamor for. As for now everyone is willing to let that fight grow surmising that Mayweather should take care of his unfinished business with Pacquiao first.

A rematch with Miguel Cotto would also be intriguing if Mayweather went that route. Their last fight was hard fought and in doubt until Mayweather stepped things up in the last third of the contest. Because Cotto’s form has been great since teaming up with Freddie Roach more than a few would pick him to defeat Mayweather this time around. However, a fight against Canelo Alvarez would be just as lucrative for Cotto and one the public would rather see at this point. That seems to be where it is headed. Which is what brings us to Amir Khan who is a wildcard in all of this. Dismiss talk of Pacquiao ever facing the Bolton man. Al Haymon represents Khan and is loath to do business with Arum. Mayweather can box Khan in the spring, but it might be a bit more of a risky fight than a Pacquiao contest would be. For sure it is less lucrative than facing Pacquiao and the prestige of beating Khan would not be as great.

Because Arum has no promotional ties to Khan it would not serve his company well to risk Pacquiao against him. Mayweather though is another story, because even if Pacquiao loses the financial rewards are so great that both Top Rank and Manny walk away a winner.

After years of double talk and refusing to seriously pursue a Mayweather match for Pacquiao, Arum now says he would like to see them box twice. Presumably he means once on Showtime and once on HBO, to accommodate the networks. Complicated yes, but it is conceivable it can get done if Mayweather decides he wants the fight bad enough.

Mayweather would probably outpoint Pacquiao with a little room to spare, but for whatever reason seems to have a degree of fear of him. Mayweather seems obsessed with taking shots at Pacquiao from time to time, but always skirts around the issue of when they might fight.

This much we do know, if Mayweather is concerned at all about his legacy he better take on Pacquiao. If he doesn’t it will forever be a serious stain on his career. People will point to the fight Mayweather never had instead of the ones that he did. There is still time to erase what is fast becoming a stigma on Mayweather’s career.

It is no longer the same hot fight it would have been about five years ago when both were in top form, but as they say better late than never.

READ THIS NEXT: What is Amir Khan planning?

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