The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

On Mayweather vs. Pacquiao

There’s been a million and six things said about this non-fight not happening (I counted… believe me), and it’s really pointless to pile on and add more. And will that stop me? Like fun it will.

– I have written many times about my fears about where boxing is going, but ironically this fight not happening doesn’t really worry me to any great degree on that account. My concerns are all about the day-in, day out business of the sport which includes 95% of all fights and fighters. This fight and these fighters are very much not part of that category, and I don’t believe that this fight not being made has much effect on the health of boxing overall at this point. There’s going to be people who look at it and think “God, this sport can’t even get this right”, and they’ll have a point, but it’s a point which has been true or assumed to be true for a very long time and the people for whom that’s enough to drive them off were driven off many years back, to be honest. This is not a revelation; hell, it’s not even the first time this particular fight has died on the negotiating table. The biggest problem with the sport is the inability to make new stars as fast as the old ones are used up, and this fight, whatever else it may have done, certainly wasn’t going to make a new star or use up an old one. Which ironically is part of why it not being made is so frustrating- it’s the kind of fight where even the loser would come out ahead.

– That said, with this fight having died twice already I strongly doubt that it’ll be made in its current form. Perhaps in time when both guys are more broken down and more in need of a payday (think Jones/Hopkins II) it may happen, but as it stands it’s fallen through twice when the pot of money involved was as big as it was going to get AND when both guys didn’t really have a credible fallback position. They just don’t want the fight. Dan Rafael’s dropping hints about it being re-made for May ’11, but why would it work then? By May, ‘Weather will be talking about how he hasn’t fought recently enough and needs a tune-up against whatever the 2011 version of Henry Bruseles is and Pacquiao will have some other excuse, and we’ll start hearing about no, really, just wait ’til November this time. As long as both guys can keep stringing this out they can maintain an artificially inflated interest in their fallback fights which the press will treat for a while as preludes to a big event, instead of mediocre money-spinning time-wasters. Don’t think this hype comes about by accident; all parties to this- Golden Boy, Top Rank, Pacquiao, Mayweather, Al Haymon, the boxing press, etc.- have an interest in keeping alive the hope of the fight without delivering. Part of the art of promotion lies in recognizing how long this can be done without driving down the value of the eventual fight; I think they’ve already missed the mark. I also think, in this case, many of the principles don’t care if they have.

– Speaking of, if Mayweather wants to fight Sergio Martinez at a reasonable weight (say, 154? Anything lower is no good) that’s a fine substitute fight in my opinion, though I’d be surprised if Floyd took the fight. Pacquiao has no good options at all: Arum wants to keep it in-house with Margarito and Cotto and both of those fights suck. Cotto is a great fighter and a warrior, but he tried his luck with Pacquiao and took a career-shortening beating which left no questions in anyone’s mind about who the better man is. Margarito is a fucking dirty cheat of the lowest order, and a fight with Pacquiao for him is all of a bad matchup, a no-buys spectacle, a sporting mis-match and a moral offense.

– As a result, I’ll say this- as great as both men have been and still could be, it’s probably best to think of them both as retired from here on out. They’re in their 30’s at relatively smaller weights, and both have reached a point where there aren’t many serious fights left for them and those that are they won’t take because the money isn’t right. Neither man has the mind of a Lennox Lewis, looking to clean out their weight range against younger contenders like Andre Berto and Tim Bradley the way Lewis did at heavyweight against David Tua, Michael Grant, Vitali Klitschko, etc. Both men have gone about as far up in weight as they can- Pacquiao might fight once at 154, but it’ll be against a guy he KO’d at 147 and not, say, Sergei Dzindziruk. Neither guy is likely to go down. So what do they do? Most likely Mayweather will fight one random easy touch a year for a bit longer to fund his “being Floyd Mayweather” habit and possibly a rematch with Oscar De La Hoya, and Pacquiao will probably get another year or so out of fighting first Cotto, than Margarito, and then maybe another 6 months out of fighting some other random Top Rank guy before he fades into politics and then eventually bankruptcy and a faintly shameful comeback over the next 5 years. The point is: I think it’s more likely than not that when we look back in 10 years, we’ll end up saying that Mayweather vs. Mosley was the last great competitive on-paper fight either guy ever took.

– The invocation of time brings the question of perspective, and that will be crueler to both men than their contemporaries and their cronies are. That both men are great, great hall-of-fame caliber talents is unquestionable; but to say that they are begs comparison of them to other fighters in that class, and by opting to not fight each other both men will always have something to apologize for in that company. This has been said better, but to put it in perspective: to me it says it all that Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta beat the fuck out of each other 6 times over 9 years for less money total than Floyd and Manny turned down to fight each other once. For all Mayweather and his fans want to talk about how he’s the greatest of all time, this is just another of the million ways in which he’ll never be able to carry Ray Robinson’s jock; and for all the boys at PacLand.com want to talk about how their man is the toughest thing around, this is another of the ways he shows he’s a step behind the LaMottas and Durans who really would fight anyone at any time at any weight, just to prove something. And not something to do with drug testing, either.

Overall I can’t say I’m upset about this really, or even disappointed exactly; even before this latest call-off I was utterly fed up with the BS around this fight, to the point where my interest was basically historical and not emotional, wanting to know what would happen rather than caring. I haven’t had that slightly-nauseated-in-a-good-way feeling in the pit of the gut you get when a really great matchup is on the table for this one since after the Pacquiao-Cotto fight, which was the time and place when things were hottest. At this point Pacquiao vs. Mayweather honestly isn’t even #1 on my personal list of boxing matches I want to see badly (that would be Alexander vs. Bradley, with Bute vs. Ward and Dirrell vs. Ward slightly behind). Mostly I just want this whole saga to be over; as great as Pacquiao and Mayweather are, at this point their sour selfishness is starting to distract from some of the good things happening in boxing, and I’m ready for them to get off stage and let someone with a real fight scheduled take their place under the lights. It’s come to this: can we please get to the Andre Dirrell fight already?

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July 23, 2010 - Posted by | Boxing

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