Boxing


A Final Plea for Mayweather - Pacquiao

By Steve Janoski: I imagine that these must be dark days for Floyd Mayweather Jr. Just a few short months ago, he was boxing’s triumphant conquering hero - returning to the sport last July and quickly dispatching two of the toughest, most talented fighters in the world in Juan Manual Marquez and Shane Mosley.

Immediately following the Mosley fight, he rose back to the top of the elusive “Pound for Pound” rankings once again, but there was more going on in the ring on the evening of May 1 than just taking some worthless mythical title from a placeholder.

Mayweather proved something to his detractors that night when he took Mosley’s best right hands and not only withstood them, but came back to utterly dominate the bigger, stronger fighter without having to back up while doing it.

For that short time after this virtuoso performance, the game was his again; he had made millions off the two fights, and his name was cleared in the eyes of not only the boxing public, but also in the eyes of the IRS. Many boxing fans, though they hated to admit it, began to suspect that he would easily defeat Manny Pacquiao in what everyone believed was an imminent match.

However, after the negotiations for the fight stalled for the second time, Pacquiao signed up to fight Antonio Margarito. The one-sided demolition of that same fighter last Saturday night has struck the boxing world hard, and made the iron hot for a drastic change; the pendulum has swung back in the Filipino’s favor.

And my God, how far Mayweather has fallen since.

The furor spread instantly over the internet. The wall of Mayweather’s Facebook page is alight with messages— nearly all of them having to do with Pacquiao, and not all of them cordial.

Some are messages of support from his real fans, while others are quiet, humble inquiries into what appears to be his seeming reluctance to fight the Filipino. Many, however, are far more boisterous, calling the fighter “Gayweather” or “Fraud” and telling him that Pacquiao will “destroy him.”

One fan even went so far as to say that Floyd has lost his own Facebook page.

“Floyd has lost his skills, he always loses money, he’s losing his fans, and he’s even lost this Facebook page,” the fan proclaimed. “This page belongs to PACQUIAO now.”

It doesn’t stop there. Every YouTube tribute to Floyd has been inundated with comments of the same ilk— brutally brash callouts by anonymous screen names looking to rattle sabers for their fighter.

All the while, piles of opinion articles are accumulating, many of which contain feature authors proclaiming the era of Floyd Mayweather dead, and that Saturday’s mauling of Margarito has left the outcome of a future Mayweather-Pacquiao fight all but decided.

As if this isn’t enough, Mayweather’s personal life also appears to be in shambles. He’s been hit with a restraining order by his ex-girlfriend that prevents him from seeing his two sons, the result of an allegedly violent confrontation in September. The slew of charges he faces for this incident could put him in prison for over 30 years.

Another incident occurred just last week, with a security guard claiming that Floyd poked him in the eye through an open car window when the guard was parked outside Mayweather’s Las Vegas home. This could result in another misdemeanor assault charge if pursued by the prosecution.

And, in one final blow, his trainer and uncle, Roger Mayweather, will likely stand trial on Jan. 24 on charges of attacking a female boxer. Roger, who is currently free on bail, could face a maximum of 10 years in prison if he’s convicted, meaning that even if Floyd ducks jail, he may be left without his trusted trainer for the biggest fight of his life.

Frankly, Floyd’s life is becoming a Shakespearean tragedy of epic proportions, where the attributes that have led him to these magnificent heights— his unwavering pride and his willingness to commit violence— are leading him directly to his brutal end.

But fear not. All is not over— especially when we’re talking about Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

I made the mistake once of questioning his heart, and he came back and proved me wrong; I suspect that he may do the same thing with the current flock of critics, especially in regards to a possible fight with Pacquiao.

Pacquiao’s fight with Margarito, while impressive, was not a shocking upset; one might even say that it had a predetermined outcome. Size difference be damned, few gave the slow-footed, wide-punching Mexican a realistic chance at defeating the Filipino southpaw, and with good reason. But we boxing fans are a fickle, insatiable brood, with short memories and minds that are easily swayed by the pre-fight hype heaped upon us.

In reality though, the Mexican brawler is cut from the same cloth as Pacquiao’s past handful of opponents— hard-hitting but sluggish on his feet, and little more than a wavering heavy bag for the tornado that is Manny Pacquiao on fight night.

Was Margarito much larger? Yes. However, he’s has always been more of an inside fighter, walking through punches to land his own heavy uppercuts and hooks. He rarely employs a solid jab, and doesn’t throw a particularly long right hand; a rangy fighter, he is not.

For a fast southpaw like Pacquiao, this was not a spectacular challenge. Freddie Roach knew this, and that’s why he let Pacquiao take the fight. No misleading, overblown 24/7 series should make anyone believe that Margarito had any real chance besides a fluke knockout.

But when people talk about Pacquiao “destroying” Mayweather, I really must ask, even in the glowering ruins of the post-Margarito destruction— have we forgotten whom we are talking of?

Hate him or love him, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is 41-0. He has made fighters of every style and caliber look like amateurs, and he’s done it for more than a decade.

His resume is a list of the most talented fighters of the last 10 years— Emanuel Augustus, Jose Luis Castillo, Oscar De Lay Hoya, Zab Judah, Diego Corrales, DeMarcus Corley, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Arturo Gatti, Carlos Baldomir; Floyd has humiliated and defeated all of them.

Is Pacquiao better than all of these fighters? Yes. His combination of speed, power, footwork, and angles puts him at the top as far as ability, with the exception of maybe Mosley at lightweight or De La Hoya in his prime.

However, to say that the outcome of any fight with Floyd Mayweather is a foregone conclusion is foolhardy, for the simple reason that 41 men have tried, and all have failed. As the fighter himself is so fond of saying— all 41 had a game plan, and none of them worked.

On top of this, Mayweather, being an astute counterpuncher with an exceptional understanding of range, distance, and angles, is the type of fighter that Pacquiao has had trouble with in the past. He is far more Marquez than he is Cotto, Hatton, Clottey, or Margarito.

I will make no prediction on this prospective fight, as it’s simply too early to even entertain the thought (or get my hopes up that it happens in the first place). But one thing is certain: having Manny Pacquiao in the ring with Floyd Mayweather will drive Mayweather to dig deeper, and perform better, than he ever has in his life.

Will that be enough to prevail? Who knows. But it will certainly be enough to make the fight an encounter that Mayweather would have extraordinary incentive to win— he should know better than anybody that in America, when you win, we tend to give you a pass on a lot of misdeeds.

Whoever triumphs, the excuses will abound. The fight took too long to come to fruition, someone had hand problems, someone was on steroids, someone injected lidocaine, someone got old overnight or someone was already shot and now they’re “exposed”— we boxing fans don’t like giving credit to winners, no matter who it is.

Ironically though, it’s the fans who would be the real winners of this matchup. The massive buildup to this fight would be one that this generation of fight fans has never experienced, and the battle itself might approach the level of those bouts that have come to be described as “legendary” in the history of the sport— “The Rumble in the Jungle,” “The Showdown,” “The Brawl in Montreal,” “The Thrilla in Manilla,” “The War.”

It would be the only matchup of this era capable of duplicating the raw excitement purely because of the characters of the personalities involved. And, if it does finally happen, these two modern warriors will face off and have the opportunity to, as Homer said, “Stand and fight to the finish, twisting and lunging in their deadly dance,” and leave the memory of their battle imprinted on the minds of every pair of eyes watching for years to come.

The chance for the two greatest fighters of an age to have the opportunity to come toe-to-toe while still in their primes happens rarely, and this fight not happening because of squabbles about blood tests or payouts would be the greatest travesty in the history of the sport.

It would also give every fan in the world the right to – no, it would nearly demand – that every fan in the world turn their back on an already fading niche sport, because we deserve more than this from the fighters, the promoters, and the boxing world in general.

Floyd, Manny— do not rob yourselves of the chance for your names to live forever, with a place in the history books that emulates the likes of Hector and Achilles, and to be the first memorable warriors of the new millennium.

And for the love of God…do not rob us of the chance to watch you do it.

Article posted on 22.11.2010



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