21 February 2015

So Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is finally happening

(FoxSports)
It will have taken over five years ever since the talk surrounding a superfight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao began but now the fight the boxing world has been waiting for and waiting for will finally happen. Mayweather broke the news on Shots yesterday and the fight, taking place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 2nd, is widely expected to be the most lucrative fight of all time. It will be a joint broadcast between HBO and Showtime, the second one of its kind (the first being Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson in 2002).

Many will approach this fight as better late than never, but it is hard to deny that this will be the same fight as it could have been a few years ago.

The key reason why this fight is not what it could have been is simply because these fighters are not what they were when the negotiations began the first go-around. Neither Mayweather nor Pacquiao are spring chickens as Mayweather will turn 38 in a few days and Pacquiao turned 36 in December.

Then there is the fact that they are still the two best fighters in the sport but neither are at their zenith. Pacquiao simply has not looked like the same fighter since he got rocked by Juan Manuel Marquez in late 2012 but even in the years before that since he knocked out Miguel Cotto in 2009, as noted by Iron Mike Gallego at Deadspin. His string of knockouts over Oscar De Lay Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Cotto also do not look as impressive as they did at the time which Gallego also touches on. Meanwhile even as Mayweather still stands without a loss, he very nearly lost to Marcus Maidana a year ago and while Mayweather bounced back in their September rematch, he did look like a relative shell of himself. He hasn't knocked anybody out since 2011 in Victor Ortiz, and that came with some controversy (as well as setting up the stage for this).

But even a diminished Mayweather should take this fight. Here's what Teddy Atlas has to say:
"Floyd has the edge, I believe...he's naturally the bigger guy. He has not learned how to lose. That confidence is so important at all times in our life, but especially when you're going to make a monumental moment like this. Confidence is everything.
"The edge: Mr. Mayweather, the money man, the better defensive fighter, the guy that will take advantage of reckless aggression of Pacquiao."
Can Mayweather-Pacquiao "save" boxing? The same question was asked regarding the first network television deal in a long time between Al Haymon and NBC to form the Premier Boxing Champions series, which just this week signed a deal with CBS and also has a deal with Spike. Yahoo's Dan Wetzel's says no:
"What [Mayweather-Pacquiao] won't do is 'save' the sport or anything along that vein, even if that's what will almost certainly become a media narrative.
"Boxing isn't going to be saved by anything. This is a different era, a different time. No one fight can spin the calendar back to the 1960s."
Wetzel goes on to say that "in many ways, it doesn't need to be saved." Vice Sports'  Eric Nusbaum agrees:
"The truth is that boxing isn't dying any soon; the irreversible and undignified decline is a mirage. Boxing may not hold the cultural significance it once did, but it still has enough fans to sustain the enterprise and make a few fighters and promoters very rich in the process. This gets overlooked because so many fight fans in America are people of color, and because so many writers insist on declaring the sport dead all the time."
Gallego makes the point that it is this fight, and specifically the boxers involved, that is what is killing the sport:
"The problem with boxing is not a dearth of talent, it's not a lack of interest, and it's not that the sport has lost its appeal. The problem, epitomized by Mayweather and Pacquiao, is that in the absence of any sort of central regulatory body, the few elite fighters and promoters have organized themselves into a small number of cartels, which effectively refuse to do business with one another. For the last five years, fighters signed to the two largest promotional camps have almost never fought one another, even when it was the best fight that could be made, because of personal differences between the promoters and managers involved."
So perhaps it is better late than never that this fight is happening. Perhaps the absurdity of this long wait will make this fight even better than it probably will be. And after the shenanigans from both parties on the path to this fight, it seems a little surprising that the fight will be happening after all. Even then, and it seems counter-intuitive to say this, it seems like a little bit of a mistake making this fight something that it is not, and especially something it would have been a few years ago.

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