Thursday, May 7, 2015

(Sport) Boxing: Why Mayweather v Pacquiao Was the Best and Worst Thing to Happen to Boxing

While the history books will record that Manny Pacquiao lost his " fight of the century" bout with  Floyd "Money" Mayweather, the real loser of the disappointing bout might be the sport itself.

Part of the allure of the fight was that many saw Pacquiao posing the toughest challenge in Mayweather's career and had waited five long years for the fight to be made. Both fighter had their legacies on the line but Mayweather especially given that the fact that Mayweather's legacy by many boxing aficionados (including Mayweather himself) is solely defined by his 48-0 unbeaten record.

What we all witnessed last Saturday may not have been the greatest spectacle by anybody's standard but it was a 12 round masterclass in how to win a fight by controlling the pace and distance. In most combat sports, it's damn near impossible to win a bout without either controlling the pace and distance of a fight and Mayweather, a master at gaining a stranglehold of both, knows this better than anybody else. It's why almost all his fights get hyped to the hilt then end up being borefests as he quickly gains control of both the pace and distance then the fight is over as a spectacle.

It's also why people hate the pants off the pound for pound champ outside his brash public persona, insensitive public statements, and his extensive but shamefully under-reported history of battering women. Boxing fans across the board will praise his ability as a boxer but are left bemused when he calls himself "TBE" (shorthand for "the best ever") and lose their minds when he has the nerve to commit the blasphemous act of saying he's greater than Muhammad Ali then criticize the great man's legacy in the same breath.

All the hate Mayweather attracts and encourages is why he's the sports main draw and why many thought Mayweather would win the bout but still hoped that Pacquiao would beat him up badly enough to make him retire. Mayweather would have had to retire if he did lose because he would no longer be the sports biggest draw and his main legacy (his unbeaten record) would be in tatters.

But, in truth, it would have been difficult for Pacquiao to win the fight. Mayweather is  the bigger man, has a larger reach and is just as fast as the Filipino pugilist which means Pacquiao would have push the pace of the fight and close the distance in a sport where simply, in the words of the legendary boxing coach Emanuel Stewart, " the good big ones usually beat the good little ones".

The moment I knew the fight was over as a spectacle was when Mayweather landed a straight right in the first round, squared up in the center of the ring with Pacquiao and nothing happened. From there, Mayweather took control of the pace and distance of the fight by being elusive, throwing a ton of spoiler and stiff jabs, and landing the occasional straight right.

The only times Pacquiao found success was when Mayweather gave up the distance but was still in control of the pace of fight as Mayweather simply circled off the ropes after Manny unloaded then preceded to take over the pace and distance of the fight like nothing happened.

Because the fight was so boring to watch except among the few real boxing fans who appreciate what the sweet science is all about, boxing might have just suffered the biggest poke in the eye it's since Mike Tyson got peckish and took a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear. Never has boxing had so many people pay attention to sport expecting to see Hagler/Hearns only to get a less entertaining 12 round rehash of Duran/Lennard II.

Casual fans of the sport took to twitter to register their disgust towards the fight after they felt they were cheated out of their hard earned money to watch a 36 minute boxing exhibition.  The reaction to the fight gotten nasty as Pacuiao, HBO and Showtime are now subject to a lawsuit from angry fans less than pleased with bout they saw and incensed with the revelation that Manny went into the ring with a tear in his shoulder.

While Mayweather v Pacquiao wasn't the greatest fight to watch, I've seen worse fights and if the world was paying attention to those they probably wouldn't want to watch boxing, ever. In sum, we all expected the fight of the century but what we got was a fight the century will quickly forget which is not only a stain on the fighters involved but a black eye on boxing in general.

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