The prospect of a long awaited mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao seemed as distant as ever after the flamboyant American's fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Though Mayweather improved his perfect record to 42-0 by claiming the WBC welterweight title from Ortiz, he was reluctant to commit to the showdown most desired by the boxing world.
"I don't need Pacquiao," Mayweather, 34, told reporters after beating Ortiz at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in a controversial fourth-round stoppage. "With or without Pacquiao, every time Floyd Mayweather goes out there, he's going to make over US$70 million [Dh257m]."
The victory over Ortiz came as the two fighters emerged from a break, in which Ortiz had embraced Mayweather in the centre of the ring.
As they broke, Mayweather shot out a left hand and followed it with a right that put Ortiz down in his corner. Ortiz struggled to get up as Joe Cortez, the referee, called an end to the fight.
"I don't need him. Where was Pacquiao in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 when I was dominating the game? He never asked me [for a fight] when I was in my twenties or when I was in my teens," said Mayweather.
A duel between the defence-minded Mayweather and the aggressive Pacquiao, the two biggest drawcards of their generation, would decide the mythical title of the world's best pound-for-pound fighter.
Five-division world champion Mayweather had been expected to meet the "Pac-Man" last year until negotiations collapsed over the American's demand for random drug testing.
Pacquiao is scheduled to fight Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez in November and, should he win that bout, there is speculation the Filipino southpaw could finally meet Mayweather next May.
However the American, who made a minimum of $25m from his victory over Ortiz, repeatedly questions how Pacquiao could have won world titles in an unprecedented eight weight classes.
"Sugar Ray Leonard, we knew he was going to be great from his Olympic days," Mayweather said. "Floyd Mayweather, from the beginning of his career in the '90s, we knew he was going to be a great professional. Now ask yourself, a fighter just don't get to 25 years old and all of a sudden he becomes great," he added, referring to Pacquiao.
Mayweather also criticised Pacquiao for riding on his coat tails financially and also with the selection of his opponents.
"Pacquiao is famous because he is attached to my name," he said. "When they say Pacquiao, they say that's the guy they are trying to get to fight Floyd Mayweather. When they say Floyd Mayweather, they say the greatest ever. All Pacquiao is doing is fighting my leftovers, man."
The Manny Pacquiao Story
• Interactive: The Manny Pacquiao story
• Part one of the Pacquiao story: In Mannyland
• Part two of the Pacquiao story: Unchanged by fame
• Part three of the Pacquiao story: Team Pacquiao
• Part four: A bittersweet farewell to Manny Pacquiao
• Pacquiao's promoters keen to push through fight in Abu Dhabi
• He's the best, but Manny Pacquiao is still learning to be better