Real Talk: Time for Mayweather and Pacquiao to put differences aside an give fans what they want
By Thomas Cowan: If you are one of many boxing fans in USA who have paid to watch Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao’s fights for the best part of a decade, you will have parted with about $1000 of your hard-earned money and helped to make these two men very rich. For 5 years the boxing world has been desperate to see them fight each other and it hasn’t happened. It has to happen if either of the two greatest fighters of this era want to be seriously considered among the true boxing greats like Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong and Muhammad Ali.
Pacquiao’s fans will tell you he is the better fighter. They will say he is the only eight-division world champion in history. They will say his performances against Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto and Oscar De La Hoya were far more impressive than Mayweather’s performances against the same opponents.They will say he will overwhelm Mayweather’s defense with his high work-rate.
Mayweather’s fans will tell you the opposite. They will say Mayweather’s undefeated record is more impressive that Pacquiao’s 8 divisional titles. They will say he beat better versions of Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto. They will tell you Mayweather beat Juan Manuel Marquez with ease, who Manny hasn’t could beat decisively in their first 3 fights and was flattened by the Mexican in the fourth. They will tell you Mayweather’s hand speed, footwork and defensive skills will expose Pacquiao’s reckless style and Floyd will toy with him. Frankly, this is all irrelevant.
Comparing skills and analyzing records to debate who was better is for fighters from different divisions, eras or both. Sugar Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali? Sugar Ray Leonard or Bernard Hopkins? Roy Jones Jr or Archie Moore? The list goes on. Fights between these fighters could never have happened so it is interesting and acceptable to compare their skills and records to decide who is better. Great fighters who share an era and division settle their differences in the ring. George Foreman could have dismissed Muhammad Ali’s challenge, pointing out that he destroyed Joe Frazier and Ken Norton who Ali badly struggled against. Marvin Hagler could have ducked Leonard and pointed out that he wiped out Thomas Hearns in 3 rounds, who Leonard went life and death with, stopping Hearns in 14 rounds, while behind on points. However, like great champions, George Foreman and Hagler tried to prove they were the better men and the underdogs, Ali and Leonard, prevailed. Unless Mayweather proves it in the ring, who is to say Pacquiao couldn’t do the same?
There has only been one serious attempt to make this fight. That came in early 2010, when the fight fell through over drug testing issues. Mayweather suspected that Pacquiao was using performance-enhancing drugs and insisted on random blood testing throughout the build-up to the fight. Pacquiao agreed to go over and above normal drug-testing regulations but claimed that having blood taken from his less than 28 days from the fight would weaken him. The issues were not resolved and the fight fell through. Interestingly, Mayweather’s upcoming opponent Marcos Maidana has the same strength and conditioning coach that Pacquiao had when Floyd voiced his concerns that he suspected that Pacquiao was “juicing” and he has a higher knockout percentage than Pacquiao but Mayweather hasn’t been so vocal about wanting extremely strict drug-testing.
In 2012, Mayweather offered Pacquiao a career high payday of $40 million to take the fight. Pacquiao instantly rejected it because as anyone with business sense knows, Mayweather vs Pacquiao is a $200 million fight and the offer was a joke. If Pacquiao had offered Mayweather that amount, or even double that, Floyd would have fallen over laughing. Mayweather made Pacquiao an offer he knew Pacquiao wouldn’t accept and I only mentioned this offer because I’d be accused of “hating” on Floyd if i didn’t. Mayweather has since said Pacquiao must avenge his defeats his Timothy Bradley and Marquez and must leave his promoter Bob Arum if the fight is to happen.
Last Saturday night, Pacquiao avenged his scandalous 2012 defeat to WBO welterweight champion Bradley. In doing so he climbed back up the pound-for-pound rankings (I have him back at #2 due to heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko’s lack of competition and WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward’s inactivity). Pacquiao is expected to fight Juan Manuel Marquez to try and avenge his knockout defeat to Marquez next September in six months time.
If, and it’s a huge if, he can beat his longtime rival he will have enhanced his legacy even further. However, except for Marquez, he is out of options as far as opponents are concerned. Is anyone really interested in Pacquiao vs. Ruslan Provodnikov? Or Terence Crawford? Or Mike Alvarado? Those are the only other realistic opponents for Pacquiao in 2015 if he stays with Top Rank and none are appealing.
However, although their stable is much deeper and better, what options can Golden Boy really offer Mayweather? Danny Garcia is a very accomplished champion at light welterweight and has a growing Puerto Rican fan-base. He blew out Amir Khan in 4 rounds and destroyed an aging Erik Morales. He nullified Lucas Matthyse’s incredible power on Mayweather’s undercard in September? But does anyone really believe he has the skill set to beat an elite fighter? Amir Khan was out-boxing him before Garcia exposed his poor chin with a brutal left hook. Zab Judah made Garcia look very limited by taking away his left hook and Mauricio Herrera did the same a month ago. Some even thought Herrera beat Garcia. Mayweather vs Garcia will probably to pretty well on PPV and Mayweather would look impressive in winning every round against a young, strong undefeated champion but will people remember that fight in 20, 30 or 50 years?
Mayweather’s two options for his May fight showed his lack of options. Golden Boy were trying to get us excited about a speed vs speed match-up beaten Mayweather and Khan. This may still happen if Khan beats Luis Collazo on Floyd’s undercard on May 3. Khan’s speed was not enough to beat Lamont Peterson or Julio Diaz convincingly, even a casual boxing fan can work out that it won’t be enough to beat Mayweather. In the end, Floyd chose to fight Maidana, who gave heavily hyped “little Mayweather”, Adrien Broner, a brutal beating in December. However, Broner couldn’t even beat Paulie Malignaggi convincingly and Maidana just exposed his lack of power at welterweight, poor footwork and low workrate. Maidana is a good fighter but we already saw what happened when he faced a slick, defensive fighter in 2012 when he lost every single round against Devon Alexander.
Mayweather can fight Maidana, Garcia, and Khan to see out his career and it will probably do well on pay-per-view as all of them are good well-known fighters. But they aren’t elite, they never were and never will be. They are goo fights, but not fights that will be remembered for generations to come. Neither will his fights with Victor Ortiz or Robert Guerrero. His schooling of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez did fantastically on PPV and will be remembered as a great win if the 22 year-old Mexican goes on to have a great career. However, if Canelo were to be out-boxed by Erislandy Lara in July and then went on to have an average career, that fight won’t really enhance Floyd’s greatness either. This may seem like in being harsh on Mayweather but I would say the same of Pacquiao. Joshua Clottey is a good fighter but everyone knew his fight with Pacquiao would be one-sided. It was exciting to see Pacquiao beat up Mexican bad boy Antonio Margarito but that fight was only ever going one way. Besides getting Mosley’s name on his record, was there really any point in Pacquiao fighting him coming off a draw with Sergio Mora? A Mayweather-Pacquiao fight will be remembered and will be defining, any other fight for either man is insignificant in comparison.
In conclusion, Floyd and Manny are fast running out of time to fight each other and cement their legacies among the greats.They are also fast running out of other opponents. They owe it to their fans to get in the ring and settle the score within the next twelve months. If that means Floyd must give Pacquiao a bigger portion of the purse than he feels Manny deserves, then he should do it. If Pacquiao must leave his promoter and accept less than a 50-50 split and strict drug testing, then so be it. If the fight doesn’t happen, both their legacies are tainted.