I Don’t Care About Pacquiao-Mayweather: Lessons You Should Have Learned Last Decade

By Jason Peck - Manny Pacquiao has just dominated Josh Clottey. Floyd Mayweather will likely emerge victorious against Shane Mosley. And boxing scribes again ignore more pertinent boxing matches to answer one question: When will Pacquaio and Mayweather the most lucrative fight in boxing history? Boxing scribes were quite quick to proclaim this “fight of the decade.”

But guess what? The truly great fights of the past decade were thrown by guys the mainstream didn’t care about, and none of them came close to “most lucrative ever.” Combine the last 10 fights named by Ring Magazine as “Fight of the Year” and you’ll find that Pacquiao’s proposed check for fighting Mayweather could have paid for them all.. By contrast, the decade’s actual “most lucrative ever” like Tyson-Lewis routinely failed to impress. Star power and money does not guarantee a great fight. How can it be “fight of the decade” when the ink hasn’t dried on the contracts?

That’s the way it should be: Boxing for the true fans, who don’t care if the rest of the world doesn’t care. That’s because it’s OUR sport, not theirs. And “lucrative” and “great” are two different animals..

Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward made three brutal fights that would have amazed old-school hard-asses like Lamotta and Fullmer. Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez did the same at a world championship level. The first battle between Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo defies description. It is certainly worth noting that of all the Ring Magazine “Fights of the Year” since 2000, only the third fight between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera was televised on PPV. The rest were held between hard-core warriors who never broke into the mainstream. It didn’t’ matter if they did.

To further justify my point, I find it necessary to point out all the decade’s best that truly exceeded their expectations, and the ones that didn’t. You’ll notice a pattern here, and my apologies to Oscar de la Hoya, who winds up in a majority of the lousy but profitable fights. Inexplicably, of course.

Lewis-Tyson was the biggest heavyweight bout in history, the greatest bout in history, period. Up until Oscar De la Hoya-Mayweather, it made more money than any bout before it. This was supposed to be the ultimate showdown between the two greatest heavyweights on the planet. Except it wasn’t.

By that point in time, Tyson was vastly past his time as to be a non-contender. Lewis took the smartest payday of any athlete’s life, and easily beat him. But the mainstream went crazy until the inevitable disappointment, and spent far too many hours debating over what a prime Tyson should do to a modern-day Lewis. The only problem is that Mike Tyson was a decade past said prime, and Lennox Lewis was still an elite athlete. This was an embarrassing mismatch for any boxing scribe who cared to check his facts.

A flop quickly resulted; boxing was not saved. Lennox just got to retire a little more famous, and a lot more wealthy. The location of Tyson’s share is still a matter of debate at the Internal Revenue Service.

BY CONTRAST: Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward barely scratched the mainstream, and barely made more than $1 million for a single chapter in their spectacular trilogy. Their first battle is likely recognized as the decade’s greatest. Further commentary is simply redundant.

Oscar De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather took things a step further when it bested Lewis-Tyson as the most lucrative fight ever held. Billed as the “fight to save boxing” – as such events are usually called – the event not only failed in its objective, but placed MMA on the cover of Sports Illustrated the month after. Styles make fights, and anyone who cared to check could have known that the style match-up in this one just wasn’t going to cut the mustard.

Oscar just didn’t have an answer for a slick, defensive fighter like Mayweather, and the jump in weight wasn’t enough to slow Floyd down. Simultaneously, Mayweather would be foolish to go out on Oscar when he could just as easily have coasted to a unanimous decision victory. Boring.

BY CONTRAST: Hard-core boxing fans knew about Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, as they inched slowly toward a final confrontation that determined lightweight supremacy. But this was a super-fight that only the fans noticed – even when they threw a bout that would have made boxing fans of mere spectators.

The real point is that the masses did not pay attention to a truly great bout with more heart than all of those “mega-fight” cards put together. That’s because the masses were simply not conditioned to care.

The same sad truth applies to the trilogy between Israel Vasquez and Rafael Marquez. I remain adamant, that by failing to properly promote these fights to the broader audience, boxing lost out on a slam-dunk opportunity to prove that the sport has always mattered; regardless if your name is on Sportscenter the next day.

Several years earlier Oscar did it again, with Bernard Hopkins vs. De La Hoya, a fight that for some reason drew comparisons to Leonard-Hagler, despite the paucity of such similarities. Hopkins was a careful tactician contented with a UD win, rather than a force of nature like Hagler. By contrast, Oscar projected a wholesome image, just like Leonard. That’s about it. After nine careful rounds, Hopkins KO’d Oscar with a shot to the liver. The fans left the seats within seconds. Promises of renewed relevance for boxing left just as quickly.

BY CONTRAST: Can you even pronounce the names of Mahyar Monshipour and Somsak Sithchatchawal? Didn’t stop them from throwing their own Fight of the Year. Enough said there.

Am I saying that Pacquiao-Mayweather will be the fight to end all fights, the defining moment of a generation like tired old references to Ali-Louis? I certainly won’t rule out the possibility. But the boxing media has focused on nothing but, and I find that incredibly irritating.

Don’t think that more money and more fame mean more fight. Because if you watched boxing for the last 10 years, it didn’t!

Article posted on 03.04.2010

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