By Blair Frison: Most boxing pundits agree that the legacies of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will stand the test of time, whether or not they face each other. Certainly, nobody can deny them their place in history; their names will be remembered. But they still show a worrying lack of concern for said legacies.
Pacquiao, while great, lacks a voice. He has shown no appetite for this fight. After his impressive victory over Brandon Rios, he was asked the obvious question of who he wanted next. True boxing fans everywhere issued a collective groan when he gave the standard “It’s up to my promoter” response. He has tried to redeem himself in recent weeks and must be applauded for his offer to fight for charity – a stroke of genius on his part, for which Mayweather had no legitimate response. But Pacquiao needs to do more. Basically, he needs to become a champion trash-talker. Calling Mayweather a coward was a good start.
This brings us to the Money Man himself. Whenever Mayweather’s name comes up, it seems that all anybody wants to talk about is PPV numbers and what a smart business man he is. Such trivialities should be of no concern for a true boxing fan. No doubt, he’s smart with his money. He probably has enough to take care of his family for the next ten generations. A wonder, then, that he’s still so preoccupied with the almighty dollar.
What angers many about Floyd is his insistence on his greatness. He is a great boxer, to be sure. Only a blind man could claim otherwise. But, fans want to see him tested. They want to see his heart, his grit. No matter who you favor, no matter how far over-the-hill you think Pacquiao may be, it cannot be denied that if these two greats were to meet, we would have a real barnburner on our hands.
Yet, the world waits in vain. Both fighters are aware that the demand for this fight is at a fever pitch, even though it should have happened years ago. To continously deny the fans is unforgivable. Pacquiao seems to have finally realized this and has stated his willingness to concede to virtually all of Mayweather’s demands. His detractors can say he is desperate and needs money, etc. but so what? Even if his reasons are selfish, he wants the fight. Better late than never. Mayweather, on the other hand, seems to want no part of Pacquiao. What other conclusion can be drawn? To say he does not want Arum to make money off of him is absurd. These are men who have so much money, they probably insulate their houses with it. What else can they buy that they cannot already buy? Why would Mayweather care about Arum getting more money?
And let’s not forget his genuine dislike of Pacquiao.
What is it about Pacquiao that boils Mayweather’s blood so? In a word, humility. Pacquiao makes no claim to greatness. He refuses to get emotionally involved in Mayweather’s theatrics. When Mayweather produced those ridiculous pictures on twitter, he made a huge miscalculation. To actually have an image made, showing Mayweather landing a straight left jab in Pacquiao’s face, seemingly breaking his nose, and not fight him in the ‘real world’ – this betrays Mayweather’s lack of confidence, moreso than his other actions.
So here we are. After years of waiting, fans are still clamouring for this ultimate showdown, to the discredit of both boxers. To deny fans a true fight-of-the -century, to turn their backs on their destiny and ignore the screaming multitude – this is the ultimate disrespect and leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many.
Some think it’s too late, and indeed – we will never know who would have been the better man had they fought in their prime; a true tragedy for boxing. Some will say “Lewis and Bowe never fought” or “Leonard waited years to fight Hagler” or “Frazier never squared off with Norton” and this did not hurt their legacies. True, but there’s an important difference: We live in the age of the Global Network. Opinions and arguments move freely and with great speed, across the world, influencing the minds of others. Never before has there been such widespread disdain for two boxers, though it must be said that -fair or not – Mayweather will bear the brunt of the blame. This is due, simply, to his outspokenness; his brashness; his belittling of the man who many think will bring out the best in him.
Such disregard for legacy will, ultimately, haunt these boxers later in life. A spectre that will never vanish. History will remember them, even call them great, but not with such reverence as the true greats.