Saturday, December 5, 2009

Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather: Winners and Losers

For the first time since Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield, the Boxing world has produced a fight that all of mainstream America will hear about. Manny Pacquiao is close to a household name. His status in his home country is that of a man with 100% name recognition. His in-ring performance over the last five years is, unmatched; this statement can be made unabashedly, in spite of what any Mayweather fan may state.

Mayweather, however, is no chopped liver. We must remember that Money brings perhaps the purest talent to the table when he steps in the ring. His punches are crisp and quick, slashing and sneaking in from all angles and at all speeds. Mayweather fights like he’s on a pitcher’s mound. He’ll pound you inside with three fastballs, take something off and catch you on a changeup, then finish the job with a slow curve or more high heat. Mayweather’s knockout of Ricky Hatton, a scene already erased from the mind of many Boxing fans, is worth its weight in gold. It’s no exaggeration to say that the clip is plenty worthy of highlight reels. The fact that so many have forgotten and neglected that finale only reinforces Mayweather’s opinion that he does not get enough credit. If Pacquiao fans want him to shut up and fight their man, it might be a good time to give him some.

The problem with Boxing is that it takes a perfect world to make a perfect fight. Whereas other sports guarantee marquee matchups by way of schedules, major network TV, and divisional arrangements, Boxing is stuck in the dark ages of shady, backroom, aristocratic, thuggish dealings between millionaires that wouldn’t necessarily make it in other businesses.

Could you imagine if Yankees didn’t play the Red Sox next year because George Steinbrenner and John Henry were “too far apart on the money”? Major League Baseball doesn’t let “fights” fall apart because it knows that a positive image is what makes the “fights” worthwhile.

Boxing should take a cue and keep this bout together. First of all, it ought to know better anyway. Second, the world in which the camps of Pacquiao and Mayweather are negotiating a showdown will not get any closer to perfect. Mayweather was the Pound for Pound King. Pacquiao ascended the throne in his absence. Mayweather’s comeback fight was a victory over Pacquiao’s greatest foil in Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao’s most recent victory was over one of Mayweather’s greatest foils in Miguel Cotto. Both guys are now most comfortable at welterweight. Both guys do huge Pay Per View numbers. Both guys have beaten both Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton. Both guys have promoters with major sway in the sport.

(Pacquiao is, of course, Bob Arum’s greatest fighter. Mayweather is now represented by Richard Schaeffer, a fact so under the radar it’s almost frightening. Think about it: Floyd Mayweather, JR., is basically a Golden Boy Promotions fighter. Should he be scared of the curse?)

There is little to nothing that can get in the way of this fight. However, this is the fight game, a sport that we love and hate. If anything could get in the way of a perfect storm, it would be something related to Boxing.

RSR presents the Top Obstacles to Pacquiao-Mayweather

#1 Money

Ok, so this one was a no-brainer. It still merits consideration. Mayweather wants 65% of the purse. Just typing that number caused me to bend in half laughing. I seriously had to just stop typing for five minutes. There is no way that Mayweather is the bigger star in a showdown between these two. His PR has finally caught up to him: Those on the fence now stand against him until he agrees to fight and keeps the bout together in spite of slight differences over dollars and cents. 50-50, Floyd. If you want to make 65, make it 35-35 with the final 30% riding on the victory.

#2 Shane Mosley

Mosley approached Mayweather in the ring after Floyd won his fight against Juan Manuel Marquez…and considering who now promotes Mayweather and Mosley, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it were set up. Mosley is a great fighter, but he is a clear cut rung below Pacquiao when it comes to becoming half of a possible super fight. I have no problem with Shane getting an eventual shot at either man, but my fear is that he will be just dangerous enough and appealing to fight fans and just impressive enough in terms of resume-building that Mayweather will consider fighting him and retiring promptly afterward, again slipping out the backdoor of the building with the claim that he is the greatest of all time. However, this seems unlikely. Given the overwhelming amount of hype that is building around the bare prospect of Mayweather-Pacquiao, it seems unlikely that Mayweather will have anywhere else to go.

#3 Mayweather

I don’t think Floyd is looking to kill the fight (though his statements appear that way at first). All of the talk he does is for money; He’s actually very honest about his priorities. What I could see happening is Floyd’s ego growing so big that he can’t get close enough to negotiate. I know that this is close to reason number one, but there is an extra bit wrapped into ego. He not only thinks he is worth a certain amount of money. He also thinks he is worth a certain amount of time. The Boxing world wants to see him spend some of that time in the ring with Pacquiao… But I also want to win the lottery. We can’t always get what we want.

#4 Sanctioning Bodies

This one is a reach, but hear me out. Pacquiao is now the WBO Super Champion. To keep his belt, he has to fight a top contender at some point (Joshua Clottey is ranked number one).

You know what? Don’t hear me out. Manny Pacquiao doesn’t and shouldn’t care one bit about a stupid welterweight belt that’s barely worth the gym rubber it’s printed on. This fight will be for the Ring Pound for Pound Championship and never-ending greatness. After he fights Floyd, we’ll probably never see him in the ring again.

#5 Politics

I mean real politics, by the way, not the sort of nonsense that goes on between promoters on Sunday nights. Congress always gets its hands in something stupid, and I could see armed combat on the docket at some point in the future. Fortunately for us, that day is likely very far away, leaving plenty of time for the fight lobby to get its act together and make this stinking fight.

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