It was dubbed “The Fight of the Century,” and “Battle for Greatness.” And while the greatness of both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao is beyond doubt, the fight they gave us, finally, on this day five years ago, did virtually nothing for the fighting reputation of either superstar.
Years too late, at least four or five years after it should have happened, Mayweather and Pacquiao finally fought each other. The fight was an enormous success – 4.6 million P-P-V buys and many more $millions more paid at the live gate – but the fight itself was one big DUD. Almost completely bereft of action, the 12 rounds were just about capable of keeping a fight fan awake as they unfolded live; the chance of something, anything happening, keeping sleep at bay. But watching the fight a second time, forget it. Who actually enjoys replaying this fight today?
After all the hype, after all the waiting, what a downer the fight proved to be. We know all about Pacquiao’s shoulder injury, we know both men were past their peak by a considerable margin by the time of the first bell – Floyd was 38, Manny 36 – and today the fight is better forgotten about. The huge financial success of the fight aside, it was an ordinary, nothing to get excited about waltz between two faded greats.
Pacquiao, looking nothing like the unstoppable dynamo of years before – when the southpaw blitzed the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, and Ricky Hatton – was almost passive on the night of May 2, 2015. Totally outboxed (although Manny later claimed victory, quite astonishingly), Pac Man went home having lost ten rounds on two cards, just eight on the third card. Watching the fight again today (if you can bear to), it’s tough to see the four rounds Pacquiao deserved to win.
But had the fight taken place when it should have done, when fans all over the planet were at a fever pitch with excitement over the match-up, who would have won? Would we have seen a wholly different fight had the two greatest fighters of their era met in 2009, 2010, 2011? You bet we would. But Mayweather, taking a leaf out of Sugar Ray Leonard’s book in making his rival wait until he was good and ready to fight him, the risk factor a whole lot less (Sugar did the exact same thing with regards to his super fight with Marvin Hagler), faced a slowed down, damaged Pacquiao. And we fans missed out on what could have been s truly great fight.
One that would likely have seen Mayweather pushed harder than at any other time in his career. Maybe Mayweather’s true greatness would have been revealed, released, as he battled a truly ferocious version of Pac Man. And if he had beaten this version of Pacquiao, Mayweather’s own absolute greatness would have been doubted by no-one. Instead, Mayweather waited, made us wait, and then played it safe in the biggest fight of all time.
Five years later, and many boxing fans are still mad as hell about it.