Once upon a time, not long ago, there were two boxers named Manny and Floyd. Their fairy tale story is much like that of "The Three Little Pigs," because it features lots of huffing and puffing.
To date, we still have no idea if any houses will get blown down. Actually, we still have no idea about anything.
This is supposed to be the week that the big announcement will be made. It will say that the boxing world will finally get the big one, the mega-show, the event that will rock the world. Ta-da. Mayweather-Pacquiao.
Of course, it was supposed to be announced last week. Also, the week before.
So we wait, held hostage by, from all reports, Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose whims are as legendary as his ability to duck punches. (Notice we didn't say throw them.) Manny Pacquiao, we are told, has signed off on all the details, has even agreed to take the short end of a 60-40 purse cut. That sounds reasonable because, if you know Pacquiao, that's what he is. Reasonable. Sometimes to the point of being a soft touch.
People praise Mayweather's ability to bob and weave inside a boxing ring. Apparently, he is even better at that when dealing with lawyers, fight promoters and TV executives.
Maybe this isn't Floyd's orchestration. Maybe the long delay and the daily tease is the brainchild of Mayweather's manager, the new godfather of the sport, the seldom-seen, rarely quoted, master of mystery Al Haymon.
Haymon controls an increasing percentage of the sport's stars, most of them acquired after other promoters had built them into stars. But, hey, nobody said life was fair. Especially boxing life.
Maybe Mayweather just doesn't want to do this fight and public opinion has overwhelmed him. Certainly, the money is hard to turn down, especially if you have nicknamed yourself "Money" and like to bet six figures on the over-under in the Pro Bowl. Some estimates put this fight in the $250-million-purse category and in the $100 pay-per-view strata.
It is mind-boggling that anyone would even ponder sidestepping that. It is the kind of fight where each corner will need a trainer, a cut man and an IRS agent.
Maybe the delay is much simpler. Maybe Mayweather is trying to decide to which children's hospital he will donate his purse. Or maybe his lawyers haven't had time to set up a future bail escrow fund.
Mayweather has a 47-0 record and cherishes that zero. Pacquiao hasn't got that kind of pressure. He has been beaten a few times and even sent to la-la land by Juan Manuel Marquez, whose knockout punch was so lethal that it left a packed arena at the MGM Grand shocked and fearing for Pacquiao's health.
Maybe Mayweather sees that, plus the silly wrong decision that Tim Bradley got in his victory over Pacquiao, as a sign that he needs a more worthy opponent, one with a zero in his record.
Hard to find. Leo Santa Cruz is too small, Gennady Golovkin is too big and too good and Andre Ward is too big and too rusty.
If Mayweather really doesn't want this fight, but still wants the money, the solution is simple. Just announce the fight, figure out a way to sell the tickets as nonrefundable, and then tear a calf muscle a week before the fight. Calf muscles are hard to confirm, and the fight-cancellation news conference could include some words of regret that the children's hospital won't get its money.
Outrageous? Impossible? This is boxing, folks.
Consider the public eagerness to see this fight. At least that was the case four or five years ago. Some reports say the interest level is still driven solely by people wanting to see Mayweather resting on his back in the ring, as the referee counts to 10. A personal survey debunks this. Only 80% cited this as their viewing goal.
In the meantime, this fight — hyped for years without one iota of real substance — has turned our boxing writer corps into a collection of parrots.
"Manny, are you gonna fight Floyd?"
"Floyd, are you gonna fight Manny?"
"When is the fight going to be? Where? How big a purse?"
These are all legitimate reporting pursuits. But after four or five years, they are also tedious.
Sunday, a reporter found Mayweather at the NBA All-Star game in New York and asked him the question, for the 4,356,712th time. Mayweather snarled something about this being a basketball game and not a boxing match and demanded his privacy.
They should add an amendment to our Bill of Rights that says one of the richest athletes on the planet, whose millions come from a public whose conduit to him is the media, should be free of the burden of answering reporters' questions when he is at a basketball game.
If this fight isn't announced this week, look for lots of finger-pointing — promoters at promoters, lawyers at lawyers, TV people at other TV people, Haymon at his shadow. The proposed fight date is May 2, and 10 weeks is barely adequate to put together the kind of show this should be.
Also, if this is a no-go, expect the prevailing soundtrack to be about it being a fatal blow to the sport. That would, of course, be the same sport that has survived even after Mike Tyson bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear.
All things point now to Mayweather being in a corner, against the ropes on this one. But never underestimate how fast his feet are.
Nor mess with the hair on his chinny chin chin.