Pacquiao - Mayweather-Two Warriors. One Path

By Joey Mills - Floyd “Money” Mayweather stood proudly in the sweat-drenched ring, soaking up the praise, the applause and the post-match acclaim. Plaudits rained down on him from the sold-out crowd at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand arena, from post-match interviewer Larry Merchant and from his opponent, the legendary Sugar Shane Mosley. And yet there will have been a nagging voice in the ear of the self-proclaimed greatest of all time. That voice has a Filipino accent, and belongs to Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao and Mayweather are two claimants to the same crown, the almost-mythical “Pound for Pound Number One”.. No matter the majesty of the achievements of the two warriors, and the recent form of the pair has been majestic indeed, their legacies look destined to only be fulfilled by fighting each other.

Floyd, perhaps the brashest character in an industry of braggadocio, would tell you he doesn’t need Pacquiao. He would point to his 41 fights without defeat, his multiple world championships and his ring style that has seen scarcely a glove laid on him. Mayweather would also point to bigger challenges, at least in stature, that await him if he chooses to pursue them.

The 147-pound fighter has spoke of making a jump up to 160 to face the World Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez. While this seems like quite the step-up, Floyd has proven he can cope with large opponents, as he did when winning a decision against Oscar De La Hoya at 154 pounds. Martinez also offers less of the finesse and craft that colours De La Hoya’s work, and Mayweather would be the favourite to win over the distance. However as impressive as claiming a middleweight championship would be, to many it is a victory that would ring hollow if it was attained at the expense of a Pacquiao fight.

It is strange that the two top combatants in boxing really don’t have that many options. With Mayweather having eradicated the one meaningful foe either of them could face, it has got to the point where surely all they can do is fight. This possibility has been precluded in the past by Floyd’s insistence on Olympic-style drug testing, and while this is a lofty request, Manny’s insistence that giving a tiny amount of blood will weaken him borders on the ridiculous. The Olympics have for centuries been the peak of physical competition, if there was any chance of the drug-testing hindering the ability of the athletes involved it would surely have come to light by now.

The only sensible thing for these two giants of the sport to do is to climb in a ring and settle arguably boxing’s most anticipated rivalry since Marvin Hagler and “Sugar” Ray Leonard. As ridiculous as it seems for two men who share 11 world championships between them, neither man’s legacy will be complete without this battle. And while both are understandably shy of losing, a creditable performance, even in a loss, would read better on their record than an avoidance of their defining foe.

Article posted on 07.05.2010

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