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How Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is different in 2015 than it would have been in 2010

MvP 2010 vs. MvP 2015 – How it’s Better & Worse:

Ahh, 2010.  It feels like a lifetime ago.  People were geeked over the release of a new iPhone, the San Francisco Giants were World Series champions, and the boxing world was dominated by Klitschkos. What a crazy, different society we all woke up to this past Saturday morning following the announcement from the prior evening that, finally, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will spend up to 36 working minutes making more money than all of us, combined, will ever earn over numerous lifetimes.

Reaction to the news was instant and diverse amongst the boxing faithful, with most apparently choosing to focus on the very simple, elegant fact that we’re getting the fight we’ve desired for a very, very long time. Others chose to offer up unsolicited opinions on who would win and why. And some, a very vocal minority, openly and viciously lamented the  irrefutable fact that this fight is happening later in both fighters’ careers and that somehow it takes away from its importance.

It’s easy to jump immediately on that last position in either fierce support or rabid opposition. I’m going to choose both, just for fun. Let’s take a look at the respective standing of both fighters at this point five years ago, compared to where they currently sit in the pantheon of professional prizefighting:

As of February 2010

Floyd Mayweather

  • Record: 40-0-0
  • Key wins: Genaro Hernandez (1998; RTD, 8), Diego Corrales (2001; TKO, 10), Arturo Gatti (2005; RTD, 6), Zab Judah (2006; UD, 12), Oscar De La Hoya (2007; SD, 12), Ricky Hatton (2007; TKO, 10), Juan Manuel Marquez (2009; UD, 12)
  • Key losses: None

Manny Pacquiao

  • Record: 50-3-2
  • Key wins: Erik Morales (2006; TKO, 10), Juan Manuel Marquez (2008; SD, 12), Oscar De La Hoya (2008; RTD, 8), Ricky Hatton (2009; KO, 2), Miguel Cotto (2009; TKO, 12)
  • Key losses: Erik Morales (2005; UD, 12)

As of February 2015

Floyd Mayweather

  • Record since 2010: 7-0-0
  • Key wins since 2010: Victor Ortiz (2011; KO, 4), Miguel Cotto (2012; UD, 12), Robert Guerrero (2013; UD, 12), Saul Alvarez (2013; MD, 12)
  • Key losses since 2010: Still, none

Manny Pacquiao

  • Record since 2010: 7-2-0
  • Key wins since 2010: Antonio Margarito (2010; UD, 12), Juan Manuel Marquez (2011; MD, 12), Brandon Rios (2013; UD, 12), Timothy Bradley Jr. (2014; UD, 12)
  • Key losses since 2010: Timothy Bradley (SD), Juan Manuel Marquez (KO, 6)

Knowing what these guys have done, where they stand now statistically, and how important each is to the sport, how could it possibly be a bad thing?  And, if it is good, just how good could it possibly be?  Consider these points prior to arguing with your fellow fans and random imbibers at your local pub:

Why Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is a Worse Fight Today

  1. Father Time. Technically … technically … each of these fighters–Mayweather at 38, Pacquiao at 36–is past his professional prime.  Now, that being said, each is still an elite competitor and worthy of placement on any number of all-time lists. Still, how sexy would it have been to see this fight with a 33 year old Floyd squaring off with a 31 year-old Manny that had not been stretched by Marquez? We’re seeing two of the best, no doubt; just not two of the best at their best.
  1. Self Interest vs. Good of the Game. It is equal parts intriguing and infuriating to think where boxing could’ve been today had this fight happened five years ago. Had this fight occurred earlier in each’s career, the potential for a trilogy of bouts would’ve been exponentially higher (though, it still could happen). The landscape of boxing as it currently exists could’ve been vastly different depending on how a 2010 fight (or fights) played out. Would promotions have played nicer over the past five years, with some cross-promotional talent squaring off?  Who knows. This fight may not have been best for the actual fighters five years ago, but the sport damn sure could’ve benefited.
  1. THE HYPE?!  There is no way … none … that the fight itself, knowing the style of these two fighters, especially at this stage, with so much on the line, could possibly match the hype. None. Casual fans expecting two gladiators standing toe-to-toe in the center of the ring exchanging punches at breakneck speed would be better served by hitting up Haggler-Hearns on Youtube or, even better, “Rocky III.” The fight is for boxing fans; the hype is for the folks that get geeked over the commercials

Why Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is a Better Fight Today

  1. Everyone Got Old. Each has lost the same step (relatively speaking), so there’s no clear advantage one way or the other. Plus, the physical fitness of these two respective fighters is absolutely impeccable. It is 2015 and elite athletes are monitored and treated in ways never before available to professional sports. Shy of sealing each of these guys in a ziploc for the past five year, their shape and endurance should not be a factor. We all wish this happened sooner. But, it did not, and if there are any two fighters north of the age of 35 that can put on a great contest worthy of this level of excitement, it’s these two.
  1. “The Moment.” Boxing is stepping into something of a renaissance period at the moment with a return to broadcast television, an American heavyweight titlist, and the biggest fight of the past 40 years coming this spring.  If this sport is to survive in a fight-saturated environment, it’s going to need a “moment” that everyone can point to someday in the future. This could be that moment. It’s that huge. Now, if the fight’s a dud, and one of these guys picks May 2 to be the night he goes to sleep early, the climb back into the mainstream is a bit more difficult. But, if we’re treated to a decent fight–and there’s no reason to think we won’t be–Mayweather vs Pacquiao could prove to be that one, perfect moment that everyone points to as the day boxing rose from the ashes of obscurity and retook its spot as a major broadcast sport in America.
  1. THE HYPE! Truthfully, what is the hype tied to for this fight: the mere fact that it’s happening, or the actual bout in the ring? Who cares?! Yes, the hype is going to obscure the substance, but what’s so wrong with that? People are talking about boxing on a daily basis. Every step these guys take for the next 10 weeks is going to be analyzed and scrutinized and that is awesome. Dominate the news cycle for as long as possible and allow the hype to thrive. Feed the hype. Learn to love it. The sport needs it.

Regardless of where you choose to land on the spectrum, even the most vocal detractors have to admit that this fight actually happening is exceptionally important to the vitality of the sport in an industry nearly entirely preempted by MMA. This fight, five years later than most would’ve wanted to see it, is a good thing.

To paraphrase Vice President Biden: This is a big flippin’ deal. Are we getting each at their proverbial peaks? Nope.  But, that genuinely shouldn’t take away from the fact that we’re getting two generational greats doing what the universe selected each to do: Setting it in the ring.

Aside from its importance to the history of this great sport–as well as just being damn entertaining–this fight should provide all serious boxing heads with a perfect opportunity to educate the causal fans. It should be the obligation of every serious fan to use this fight to get some folks turned on to this great sport, especially if this is their first experience with it. Capitalize on this, spread the word as fans and enjoy the fight.