The Greatest Fight You’ll (Probably) Never See

Some say it would be the biggest and richest fight in boxing history. It has been talked about for three years. It seemed a done deal on at least one occasion. We’re talking, of course, about the legendary non-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, perhaps the two greatest boxers of their generation. And now that Mayweather has signed to fight Miguel Cotto on May 5 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, it looks like he and Pacquiao may never tangle. Here’s a look back at the tangled saga of the fight that never was:

May 2, 2009. Hours before Pacquiao would knock out Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand, Mayweather tries upstaging the Filipino superstar by announcing his unretirement from boxing during a press conference hours earlier at the same casino.

January 2010. Negotiations for a fight tentatively set for March 13 at the MGM collapse when neither side can agree on a drug-testing protocol. Mayweather insists on Olympic-style blood and urine testing all the way up until the fight. Pacquiao doesn’t want blood testing days before the fight. Pacquiao also files a defamation lawsuit in Nevada against Mayweather and Golden Boy Promotions after Mayweather accuses him of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Fall 2011. Mayweather wins a controversial bout against Victor Ortiz (like Pacquiao, a southpaw) on Sept. 17. He later says he wants a May 5, 2012, fight in Las Vegas—presumably against Pacquiao. On Nov. 12, Pacquaio earns a controversial victory in his third bout against Juan Manuel Marquez. His promoter (and Mayweather’s former promoter), Bob Arum, says it’s not the time to discuss future plans.

Jan. 10, 2012. Days after Mayweather receives a delayed sentence for his plea deal on domestic-violence charges, he takes to Twitter: “Manny Pacquiao I’m calling you out. Let’s fight May 5 and give the world what they want to see.” More posturing ensues, with both sides disagreeing over date, facility and split of purse.

Feb 1, 2012. Mayweather signs for the May 5 fight with Cotto. After the fight, he must serve his 87 days in jail.

Feb. 6, 2012. Pacquiao signs to fight Timothy Bradley Jr. on June 9.

Dec. 21, 2012. On the last day of the Mayan calendar, Mayweather defeats Pacquiao by unanimous decision. Hours later, the world ends.