They got Antonio Margarito instead.
Pacquiao and Roach said Wednesday that they agreed to every demand put forward by Mayweather for what could have been the richest fight in boxing history. But the former pound-for-pound king chose not to accept the fight, leaving Pacquiao to look elsewhere for a fall opponent.
He'll face Margarito, the former welterweight champ, on Nov. 13 at Cowboys Stadium.
"I don't need him, he needs me," Pacquiao said of Mayweather, during a stop Wednesday in New York to promote his upcoming fight. "Compare my achievements in boxing to his achievements."
They've both achieved plenty, which is why fans have been clamoring for the high-profile matchup for the better part of two years — and why so many are upset it hasn't happened.
The fight was nearly made in January, then fell apart when Pacquiao refused Olympic-style drug testing in the weeks leading up to the fight. But the newly minted Congressman from the Philippines said he's even agreed to the strict blood testing in an effort to make the fight, but he hasn't heard from Mayweather's side why an agreement couldn't be reached.
"We agree with, you know, his demands," Pacquiao said, referring specifically to the blood testing. "I wanted to know if that's his real reason (for not fighting)."
The entire negotiation process came to resemble an unsavory soap opera, with HBO Sports boss Ross Greenburg publicly stating that he had worked tirelessly as an intermediary between the two sides. Pacquiao's promoter Top Rank has a poor relationship with Mayweather, who rose to become a world champion under its banner, so it's not unreasonable to assume there was an intermediary.
Shortly after a deadline imposed by Top Rank for Mayweather to accept the fight had passed, his adviser Leonard Ellerbe issued a bizarre statement in which he said no negotiations ever took place — contradicting Greenburg and the folks at Top Rank.
Roach said that Top Rank had been calling him for advice on what gloves to wear, what ring size to use, what weight to fight at — standard details during a negotiation process.
"When people are calling me and asking me, 'Is this OK? Is this OK? Is this OK?' There's something going on," Roach said. "I know there must have been negotiations going on.
"Whatever he wanted to do, we were accepting it. Whatever he wanted. Manny said, 'I want to fight. I'll agree to anything.' I thought the fight was a shoo-in."
Roach was recently in Ukraine to watch one of his other fighters, Vyacheslav Senchenko, retain a welterweight title. But all he heard from fans were questions about Pacquiao-Mayweather — not about Senchenko, and certainly not about Margarito.
"You know, I really truly think boxing needs that fight to happen," Roach said. "All people want to know, 'When's he fighting Mayweather?' Wherever I go, that's what I'm asked. People will get pissed off if that fight didn't happen."
Most of them aren't very happy that the Margarito fight is happening.
The former welterweight champion has become boxing's biggest heel after illegal hand wraps were discovered before a January 2009 loss to Shane Mosley in Los Angeles. Margarito insists he knew nothing about plaster-like inserts and blamed his former trainer, Javier Capetillo, but he's still been refused licenses to fight in California and Nevada recently.
Even Pacquiao finds it hard to believe that Margarito didn't know what was in his wraps.
"You know what goes in your hands," Pacquiao said, adding: "He's just human. There's not a perfect person in this world. We gave him a chance to fight."
If not for all the sidelights involving Mayweather and Margarito, the fight itself would still be one among the most interesting on an otherwise barren fall boxing calendar.
After all, Pacquiao will have a chance to win a title in a record-extending eighth weight division — the fight will be for the WBC junior middleweight title, even though the catch weight is 150 pounds. And Margarito has a chance to show the world that he can beat boxing's best in a fair fight, even if he's much bigger than the pride of the Filipinos.
That the matchup will be held in Cowboys Stadium, where some are already estimating a crowd of 70,000 the night of the fight, only adds to the intrigue.
"Obviously I wanted Mayweather. I looked forward to that challenge," Roach said. "This fight is the second best. He's a good opponent, but he's very beatable."