MANILA, Philippines – Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao may have regained his WBO welterweight title by beating former champion Timothy Bradley Jr., but this does not mean the "Pacman" can defeat unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Against Bradley, a younger boxer who is in his prime, Pacquiao used controlled aggression and took over in the second half of the welterweight fight to win a comfortable decision.
Foreign boxing analysts praised Pacquiao for his performance, but they were hesitant to proclaim that the Pacquiao of old – the dynamo who crushed Oscar de la Hoya and Ricky Hatton, and never stopped moving in the ring – was back.
Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated noted that Pacquiao "looked for the knockout" against Bradley, especially in the closing rounds, but "did not find one."
"This is where Pacquiao is at now: not at the end of his career, but near it. He is still an elite boxer, one of the two best of his generation, still very, very good," said Bishop.
But Bishop also stressed that the "old Pacquiao, the guy whose left hand dizzied and dismantled foes… (is) gone. He's been for a while now."
"The old Pacquiao has been replaced by an older one," Bishop wrote.
This "old Pacquiao" will not have much of a chance against Mayweather, who remains the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
"I liked 2009 Pacquiao's chances against Mayweather. The Pacquiao of 2014? Not so much," said Bishop.
Chris Mannix, also of Sports Illustrated, was even more emphatic.
"Many will clamor (again) for Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather, (but) forget it," he wrote after the fight. "It's never going to happen, and at this point, it’s probably not a very competitive fight."
Mannix believes that while Pacquiao may remain one of the five best fighters in the world, pound-for-pound, "the gap between Pacquiao and Mayweather has grown the last two years."
"Mayweather continues to be at the top of his game, while Pacquiao has slowed considerably. The window for that fight was 2009 to ’12, and that window has closed," Mannix said.
Mannix instead advised that Pacquiao go for a fifth fight against his great rival, Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico, if "Dinamita" manages to beat Mike Alvarado in their own showdown in May.
Brett Okamoto, writing for ESPN.com, goes as far as to say than Mayweather would "roll" Pacquiao if they fought now.
"He just would," Okamoto argued. "Mayweather's style always appeared well suited to handle Pacquiao, and it still is."
Okamoto pointed out that if Bradley had success in counter-punching Pacquiao, then Mayweather surely would, as well.
"If that fight were to take place in 2014, Mayweather wins 10 of 12 rounds," Okamoto said.
Pacquiao, for his part, repeated his stance on a potential mega-fight against Mayweather.
"If he wants to fight, then the fight will be on," Pacquiao said in the post-fight press conference, adding that their line is "open 24 hours, seven days a week."
Still, even the "Pacman" had to admit that making the fight happen is so much easier said than done, and even showed a bit of frustration after being asked about Mayweather once again.
"It's really hard to talk about that," Pacquiao said. "How many years have we talked about it, and it hasn't happened?"