Noticed much fan interest lately in the sport’s two most bankable stars, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, duking it out? Neither have I. After Pacquiao was knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez last year, there was some speculation that now that Pacquiao looked beatable that Mayweather might come down off his high horse and allow the fight to go forward. When that scenario failed to happen, it seems interest in what was once looked at as the biggest match to be made in modern boxing died completely. Let’s face it, Mayweather and Pacquiao blew it, with Mayweather coming out as the biggest loser.
Ugly Boy Floyd
As all but the most diehard fan readily admits, the main stumbling block to making Mayweather vs. Pacquiao happen in 2010 or 2011 was Floyd Mayweather, and it has undeniably hurt his career. Manny Pacquiao was able to keep some electricity in his career by falling back on his rivalry with Juan Manuel Marquez, although in doing so he ultimately came to his Waterloo in their fourth encounter in December 2012. Yet while Mayweather remains undefeated, his career seems to be winding down like a worn out clock. He fights infrequently, and so predictably out-slicks his opponents that his fights have even less drama now than Wladimir Klitschko’s.
Let me make this clear: Mayweather bores me now. He is a grandmaster of the sport, but he does nothing with that grandmastery except lurch from fight to fight, doing just enough to keep his name in the sports pages and bring in a low eight figures of revenue each year. He is marking time, nothing more, and time servers don’t make history.
When he retires — and he will retire soon — his record will still have its precious “0” on it, but it will still be soiled with a big, ugly black mark. The biggest fight of his career will have never happened, Mayweather himself will bear most of the blame for it, and some fight fans will always wonder if Manny Pacquiao’s hand speed held the answer to Mayweather’s defensive prowess.
Pacman Let It Go
Manny Pacquiao’s share of the blame in this is small, but real. When faced with Mayweather’s intransigence, Pacquiao chose to acquiesce rather than fight back. He could have gone on the PR offensive, but chose not to.
The name of this sport is boxing, and when an opponent ducks you in boxing and you want to drag him out into the open, you go after him. We still live in an age when fighters regularly show up at some other boxer’s press conference, post-fight interview, or even private party and calls that guy out. Pacquiao is too classy to engage in trash talk, but there is one thing he could have done: called Mayweather’s bluff and stolen his thunder.
In 2010, Mayweather played the steroids card to duck Pacquiao, and he and his family have gone on playing it ever since. While I agree that Pacquiao shouldn’t need to submit to Mayweather’s demands, boxing is a practical business and not a morality play. Pacquiao had a choice: stick to his guns and stand on principle, or swallow the insult and spit it back in Mayweather’s face. The latter was the only choice that might have damaged Mayweather badly enough to force him into the ring, and Pacquiao didn’t take it.
Taking the high road is expensive, and Pacquiao has his own price to pay too. Not only did he lose out on the biggest fight of his career, but some of Mayweather’s mud stuck. Just as some will always wonder if Pacman’s hand speed wasn’t the solution to Mayweather’s defense, some will also always wonder if Pacquaio didn’t have some steroids hidden in his closet after all.