Please don’t give us Mayweather v Pacquiao again
Trust SHOWTIME to serve us with what has the aroma of a very tantalising dish of boxing action this Saturday.
8 division world champion, current senator and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao is back in a squared circle and opposite his corner is foil-worthy villain Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner, a nickname more apt for his extracurricular activities outside the ring than in it.
It’s scheduled for no more than 12 rounds and given Pacquiao’s WBA title is up for grabs, presents a redemptive opportunity for both men. For Broner, a win over the living legend would not only grant him a second title reign of the belt he once held in 2013 but would exercise the past sins of his career which have plagued him since the Maidana loss – ill-discipline, unprofessionalism, a failure to turn up against elite opposition etc.
For Pacquiao, a victory on a major platform would be the perfect way to kickstart the blossoming of what he hopes to be a fruitful phase with SHOWTIME, PBC and Al Haymon. The fight itself has been talked about plenty and will continue to be talked about, long after the telecast ends.
But there is something more sinister lurking in the background, something whose spectre looms uncomfortably amid the backdrop of Saturday’s proceedings. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the rumours are rampant that should Pacquiao beat Broner this week (heck Broner himself could be in contention if he were to pull off the improbable) then we are highly likely to head back to the future to an episode no one with at least a handful of functioning brain cells should want to revisit.
Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao.
The 2 combatants are forever linked given their megabucks showdown back in May 2015, an affair whose unpleasant scent still remains to this day. That moment was the culmination of a half-decade long saga which gave birth (or the reintroduction) to some of the sport’s lowest moments – a continued chokehold over boxing due to consistent failure to deliver the fight in timely fashion, the welterweight division taking turns holding out for a payday, childish insults volleyed back and forth, messy negotiations constantly deteriorating in public, accusations of alleged drug abuse without any evidence, more negotiating issues such as cut off dates, Juan Manuel Marquez’s right hand sentencing the megabout to a temporary death and the revival of the A side versus B side parlance into boxing lingo. The saga dragged the sport to such depths that even respected ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas (whom I absolutely love) claimed on TV that a member of Team Pacquiao had personally emailed him asking whether there would be any repercussions in the event of a failed drug test. Nobody bothered to ever follow up on this.
Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves – the May 2nd 2015 showdown was horse shit.
It is true that if one were to displace the hype and mass hysteria which surrounded the bout and watch it in isolation, it’s actually a decent watch peppered with spots of drama and an abundance of science. But to consider Mayweather V Pacquiao without the senseless furore which drove it to such staggering financial heights would be akin to removing a fish from water. You cannot have one without the other. Whether the rampant yet chimerical expectations were responsible for resulting in a desultory affair could be logically suggested but the fact is when you piece in the hype, the noise, the price tag, the delay, the failed negotiations, the star power and the magnitude of the occasion, what boxing fans got was essentially a cake made from shit. It’s easy to abdicate the blame on one or the other but it takes 2 men to tango and both are responsible for what happened in the ring. For $100 per PPV buy or for extortionate ticket prices, we witnessed 2 guys past their prime fight passively, evidenced by a failure to show any urgency or do anything memorable.
There is a small segment of fans who enjoyed the fight and to those folks, I’m happy you did because it means at least some enjoyed the fight. But there remain an overwhelming majority who didn’t and like the first fight, it’ll be the overwhelming majority who tune in for a potential rematch given the prestige of both fighters. Yet even those folks will be wondering what’s the point of doing this again?
And really, other than money, what is the point of doing this again?
Nothing has really changed since the last time they met. Mayweather has spent his time since the Pacquiao fight decisioning Andre Berto in a fight that was billed as his 438th retirement fight, engaging in a moneymaking farce against Conor McGregor and slapping Tenshin Nasukawa on the other side of the world in an exhibition the poor kid was barely legally qualified to engage in. That’s without considering taxing hobbies such as promoting, partying, opening up a stripclub and antagonising Oscar de la Hoya.
Manny Pacquaio beat Timothy Bradley in a trilogy bout nobody wanted and decisioned Jessie Vargas in a very good fight before losing a perhaps contentious decision (and his WBO title) to Jeff Horn, that too on another side of the world. He has since rebounded by stopping a past prime Lucas Matthysse, thereby scratching the KO itch which has bothered him since 2009 and is expected to beat Broner this weekend.
I have always personally maintained that Mayweather never retired. The greatest risk controller in the history of the sport has simply been biding his time, waiting for the right opportunity to arrive without ceding to the pressures of performing to the standard of a pound for pound king. And in Pacquiao is that opportunity yet in spite of Mayweather’s opportunistic approach and Pacquiao’s slow resurrection, the fact doesn’t change that their initial meeting was so comprehensive thanks to Mayweather’s brilliance and Pacquiao’s inability to pry open a parsimonious defence. Has Pacquiao suddenly found the magic formula to crack the May-vinci Code? Has Mayweather, an ascetic gym rat, declined so much since 2015 that he has morphed into a KO waiting to happen? Are people expecting a more competitive fight the next time around? A war? A fight that will actually live up to the hype and price?
Those expecting such things are those who were equally ambitious back in 2015 and all I can say is those people are simply setting themselves up for failure. In fact, I would say falling into the hype this time around is even worse than the first fight. Not only have both men aged even more but if you were to pay for the rematch and get a shit fight again, there’s absolutely nobody to blame but yourself. Not Mayweather, not Pacquiao, not Al Haymon, not SHOWTIME, not the illuminati – just you. After all, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
I want to address another issue that many either skirted over or completely ignored in May 2015. The only thing, in my opinion, more underwhelming than the main event was the undercard. Logic suggests that in order to really give the fans their monies worth, a chief support should be placed which creates indelible memories should the main event disappoint – a tremendous knockout, an excellent performance against a top rated challenger, a unification clash or if we’re lucky, a fight of the year candidate.
The sad fact is that on May 2nd 2015, we weren’t even able to get that. The undercard bouts saw two of boxing’s most talented stars compete in separate matches, the idea being that the exposure to such a magnanimous audience would help accelerate their ascent to stardom and also result in audience retention for future bouts.
That didn’t work. Such is the greed of the powers that be that instead of engaging in genuine conflicts, Vasiliy Lomachenko and Leo Santa Cruz competed in separate and equally pointless mismatches. Lomachenko ran through massive underdog Gamalier Rodriguez in 9 rounds without breaking a sweat. Santa Cruz beat Jose Cayetano en route to a 10 round unanimous decision which was insipid as it was uninspiring. What exactly did anyone learn from such futile offerings? Did either of Loma’s or Cruz’s stock rise as a result of their performances? Was anybody even impressed? What was the point of putting on meaningless fights when they could have easily been placed in compelling fights instead? What happened to the Don King days of stacking undercards to ensure fans got their money for value? Why couldn’t we fans be given at least ONE good fight to make up for the sour main event, similar to how the UFC routinely operates? Why were Loma’s otherworldly talents and Cruz’s fan friendly style wasted on one sided fights?
Imagine if in 2015 we got Mayweather V Pacquiao with Santa Cruz V Mares and Lomachenko V Salido 2 on the undercard. It’s only then does reality hit home that the undercard did nobody a favour, the main event did nobody a favour and the entire card did nobody in favour.
In truth, the night sucked.
To reiterate, if you enjoyed Mayweather V Pacquiao in 2015 then I’m happy you did. I however didn’t and hey, these are just the opinionated ramblings of a boxing pundit not happy at what might happen.
Why can’t we instead get Manny Pacquiao V Shawn Porter in a WBA and WBC unification, a prospect far more appealing than another May-Pac merry go round? Both men have history for they were extensive sparring partners. They both hold world titles, both are under the PBC banner and their styles would no doubt gel like a hand in a glove.
So to Manny Pacquiao, Adrien Broner, Al Haymon and everybody else involved, please don’t give us the pointless and expired sequel. Because we know for sure that once the final bell rings come Saturday, the pleads will be answered … with the confirmation of a pointless rematch four years after the original.
All for the love of money.
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