The ongoing saga (or soap opera, depending on who you speak to) of the “will they, won’t they” couple; boxing’s top two 147lbers who have kept the fans and public guessing for way too long now, leaving many completely indifferent to whether the fight will actually happen or not; Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao have led us all on a merry dance, and now are allegedly close to confirming a showdown sometime in the first half of 2015.
With the relevance of this fight significantly reduced since its first incarnation was discussed way back in 2009 (hard to believe it’s gone on that long now), most people I speak to now are totally uninterested and pretty much say the same thing: “I’ll believe it when the bell rings”.
Although I share this view also, (finding it hard to believe the fight will actually happen until they are actually in the ring, at the same time, facing each other, and the bell is ringing), let’s face the reality of the situation: even if the fight does happen, does anyone really expect it to be anything other than an enormous let-down?
Back when the fight was first talked about, Pacquiao was a human wrecking ball, ploughing through the opponents in the 147 and 140lb divisions with venom, and taking the top spot on almost everybody’s P4P list. Whilst the hammering of Oscar De La Hoya at welterweight and Ricky Hatton at light-welterweight respectively were impressive enough, it was the annihilation of Miguel Cotto at a 145lb catchweight (which personally, I don’t think had as much influence on the outcome as some fans claim) that really made the world sit up and declare Pacquiao the best in the sport. The formality of shutting out Joshua Clottey following that was an exclamation mark on an incredible run.
At this point, Mayweather had looked good coming out of his brief ‘retirement’ in beating a badly blown up and totally overmatched Juan Manuel Marquez (in a ring Marquez had no business being in, such was the appalling way he had packed the weight on back then), then overcoming an early scare to completely dominate Shane Mosley the following year. The collision course was almost a given, with the two vying for P4P #1 status (and both appearing in the list’s zenith, depending on who’s list you read at the time), the fight seemed the most natural thing in the world and would’ve been the biggest “superfight” ever.
The rest is history, although it’s not the kind of history that is good for our sport. The politics, failed negotiations, blame games and talk-talk-talk between the two camps has pretty much exhausted everyone’s patience. And yet, here we are, all these years later, still clinging onto the scraps of positive information that leak out of the woodwork.
Onto the fight then (assuming we don’t hit a brick wall with the negotiations again), and it’s basically a disappointment waiting to happen. Whilst Pacman has certainly shown flashes of his old brilliance in some of his recent outings, it’s still a far cry from the Pacquiao of 2010. He still possesses the speed and dexterity, but perhaps the malice that was once so evident has faded from his combination punching. In many people’s eyes though, he’s still the one fighter with the style most likely to trouble Mayweather Jr.
“Money” on the other hand has looked as slick as ever (albeit against a few questionable choices of opponents for the self-proclaimed “best ever,” in Victor Ortiz and Robert Guerrero) up until his hard fought victory over a determined Marcos Maidana in their first fight. Chino’s rough-house tactics and physical strength allowed him to bully Mayweather in several instances, and managed to land way more shots than many had expected on the defensive master. Despite Mayweather walking away with the victory, enough questions were raised to grant a rematch and Floyd managed to secure a more convincing victory the second time around.
So, with both fighters being at their respective points in their careers, and so much water under the bridge, how do their styles match up now? Whilst Pac’s speed and agility could make things tricky for Mayweather, I’ve absolutely no doubt that Floyd will do anything to secure a victory in the safest way possible. Thus, we will probably see Mayweather fight on the back foot throughout, taking careful pot shots to secure points against Pacquiao in what would be an uneventful UD win. Pacquiao, lacking the dynamite in his fists from a few years ago would struggle to land clean on Mayweather, maybe getting a few meaningful digs in early, but would end up chasing in frustration as the fight goes on and walking onto counters. The crowd would probably be audibly booing from the 4th round onwards (after Floyd adjusts to Pacquiao’s angles and decides he doesn’t want to mix it up) and the commentators would be echoing the sentiments of the crowd and highlighting what a total let-down the fight actually is.
Of course this is just my opinion, and in a small way I’m hoping Murphy’s Law has some say in the matter to prove me wrong, and the fight lives up to the astronomical hype that has surrounded it since 2010. How great would that be: the two finally facing off and the fight actually being a stone cold classic? Well we can dream. But in the meantime I’m already preparing for disappointment, either for the negotiations to fall through or for the fight itself to be a dud; anything better than disappointment is a bonus. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed though.