Manny Pacquiao: I want to beat Floyd Mayweather at basketball - NBC Sports

Manny Pacquiao: I want to beat Floyd Mayweather at basketball
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April 11, 2014, 12:45 pm

The chances of Manny Pacquiao ever stepping into the ring against Floyd Mayweather seem slim, at best, at this juncture of the two future Hall of Famers' careers. But if they can't give fans their long wished-for dream fight, Pacquiao says he'd like to beat Mayweather in another sport -- basketball.

"Basketball, I can play with him basketball," Pacquiao said in a one-on-one interview on SportsDash that aired Friday, a day before his hotly anticipated rematch with Timothy Bradley Jr. "If he doesn't want to fight in the ring, we'll play basketball."

Pacquiao and Mayweather seemed to be on an inevitable collision course ever since Pacquiao's 2008 move up to Mayweather's weight class, welterweight, to challenge Oscar De La Hoya. Yet, the matchup of boxing's two biggest stars and top two pound-for-pound fighters never came to fruition, ultimately fizzling out amid a war of words between the two sides and an inability to agree to terms on money, drug testing and other contractual details. 

WATCH: Highlights of controversial first Pacquiao-Bradley fight

Fittingly, it was Pacquiao's controversial June 2012 loss to Bradley -- a split-decision for the latter that was widely disputed by ringside analysts -- that plunged a dagger into hopes of a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. Pacquiao would go on to lose by knockout to longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez later in 2012, raising questions as to whether his career was at an end.

But, after taking nearly a year off, Pacquiao returned with a decisive victory over Brandon Rios in November, setting up Saturday's rematch with the undefeated Bradley, who himself quieted critics in the wake of the Pacquiao fight with a pair of hard-fought victories over Ruslan Provodnikov (WATCH: Highlights) and the aforementioned Marquez (WATCH: Highlights).

WATCH: Highlights of Manny Pacquiao's greatest career fights

Bradley has said his goal in the rematch is to retire Pacquiao, and has been critical of the former eight-division champion, saying that the 35-year-old Filipino now lacks fire, hunger and a killer instinct. Pacquiao told SportsDash that he intends to prove he still has all three.

"That's what I'm trying to prove this Saturday," Pacquiao said. "To prove that my journey in boxing will continue.

"What he says to me is a challenge to me. It helps a lot, because it encourages me and motivates me to train hard, to focus and to get back the hunger and killer instinct that he's talking about."

WATCH: Highlights of Timothy Bradley Jr.'s greatest career fights

In addition to the roundball salvo fired at Mayweather, Pacquiao also discussed meeting former U.S. president Bill Clinton, whom Pacquiao says is a supporter of his both in the ring and in the political spectrum -- Pacquiao has served as a congressman in his native Philippines since 2010 -- and whom Pacquiao says he invited to watch his fight with Bradley on Saturday night.