After "Smokin" Joe Frazier conclusively defeated Muhammad Ali in the "Fight Of The Century" in March of 1971, talk of a rematch began immediately afterward. By early 1972 the only stumbling block was the fact that Frazier refused to give Ali purse parity for the rematch being that he was the undisputed world heavyweight champion after his signature win over Ali.
Ali demanded purse parity and said that he was the peoples champ and could make a lot of money fighting the other top contenders - and thus would eliminate Frazier's potential opponents. Therefore he would be the only fighter left and Frazier would have no choice but to fight him or be stripped of the title. The only fighter Ali couldn't get into the ring was the second ranked George Foreman who via his manager/trainer Dick Saddler refused to let Foreman fight Ali unless he held the title. By late 1972 Frazier had to either fight Ali and split $6 million dollars or meet Foreman for $850,000 or be stripped of the title; Frazier chose to defend the title against Foreman for one-third the money rather than give Ali purse parity.
Back then Frazier didn't fully grasp that in-spite of holding the title, Ali was the bigger draw and superstar. And the only break-the-bank money Frazier could make was by fighting Ali. On the other hand Ali knew his value and ultimately forced Frazier to make a move which opened the path to the title for him via Foreman.
Today it can be easily argued that Manny Pacquiao holds the upper hand and leverage over Floyd Mayweather Jr. more so than Ali did over Frazier almost 38 years ago. Pacquiao is not only the bigger star and the more exciting fighter, he also has a piece of the welterweight title and has met and defeated better opposition than Mayweather during his career. If Mayweather doesn't fight Pacquiao; who is he going to fight if he doesn't retire?
Everyone who closely follows professional boxing knows Mayweather is mostly inclined to make fights in which most aspects regarding the bout favors him. So you can forget about him trying to lure Paul Williams down to welterweight for a potential clash between them. Antonio Margarito's one year ban will expire soon only he's too dangerous for Mayweather. Miguel Cotto has already lost twice with his last defeat coming against Pacquiao, so there's no interest to go in that direction from a Mayweather perspective. Even if Andre Berto beats 38 year old Shane Mosley next month, that's not a monumental fight money wise for Mayweather nor will beating Berto do much to elevate his career perception and legacy.
The fighter who will be in demand if he wins his next bout is WBA welterweight title holder Shane Mosley. Mosley has longed to fight both Pacquiao and Mayweather but was used as the pawn in the Pacquiao-Mayweather sweepstakes. Now the two fighters who really had no interest in meeting him will be clamoring to make a fight with him if the circumstances allow after he fights Berto.
There's no doubt about it if Pacquiao and Mayweather can't agree on a format regarding testing each other for PED's and HGH, fighting Mosley with the WBA/WBC welterweight title belts on the line along with his WBO title would be the next biggest fight for Pacquiao. And if you're Mosley and have the choice of fighting Pacquiao or Mayweather, the choice is easy; you'll fight Pacquiao.
For Mosley the money would be better fighting Pacquiao than it would be for Mayweather. And in the ring, assuming Mosley would be the underdog against both, Pacquiao is the fighter Shane would have a better chance to upset. Everyone knows if Mosley fights Mayweather he'll be forced to push the fight and be on the attack from opening bell until closing bell. Mosley is least effective when he has to force the action and fight as the puncher; whereas Mayweather makes his living fighting as the counter puncher. However, in a clash with Pacquiao, Mosley would get a chance to use his presumed strength advantage to overwhelm Pacman physically.
If we know anything about Pacquiao, it's that he likes to attack. Sure, against Mosley he may come out early and look to box and counter but once he gets in a few left-crosses he'll step to him and open up. Which Mosley will surely welcome as he fully understands that he can get off and hit Pacquiao with his best stuff when the Filipino tries to bring the fight to him. That's how Mosley makes his living.
If lady luck has any part to play in the best fights being made, Mosley will get by Berto next month and meet Pacquiao some time in September of 2010. Pacquiao-Mosley isn't quite the super-fight that Pacquiao-Mayweather is, but due to the mindset and fighting styles of both fighters it would no doubt be the better and more exciting fight regardless of who came out on top. Pacquiao-Mayweather would be full of drama because the hype for it has recently dominated the boxing world, but how many think it'll actually be a great fight in the ring with non-stop action?
If Berto happens to defeat Mosley, Pacquiao-Berto would be a significant fight because of the way Pacquiao has moved up in weight and compiled titles. In addition to that Pacquiao's catch and kill style would make for an action packed fight because he forces the opponent to fight back in order to try and stabilize the fight and/or impede his aggression. As for Mayweather-Berto, not only would it be a dull fight to watch, as good as Mayweather is at selling a fight - even he would have a hard time selling it if he even cared to.
The boxing world clamors for Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, but the BS demands regarding the drug testing of Pacquiao coming from team Mayweather in order to make the fight has taken some of the glow off of it. Boxing fans are tired of hearing about drug tests and PED's to the point to where their interest and anticipation of the fight is probably starting to wane. I know mine is.
Bob Arum has been talking about Paulie Malignaggi as a possible opponent for Pacquiao if the Mayweather fight can't be made. Which is a fight that would do nothing for or to enhance Pacquiao's legacy. Especially after Pacman defeated Hatton and Cotto in his last two fights who both beat Malignaggi.
A banner start for boxing in 2010 would start with Mosley getting by Berto and then fighting Pacquiao in September after he's had plenty of time to recuperate after his last bout with Miguel Cotto. Pacquiao-Mosley would be a great fight drama wise and feature two great fighters who have gone out of their way to take on the best available opposition throughout their entire career; which is what fans hope to get when they buy boxing on PPV.
Hopefully, Mayweather will submit that all Pacquiao has to do is subject himself to the testing of the Nevada State Athletic Commission and make the fight that everybody wants to see become a reality.
And if he won't, Pacquiao-Mosley would be a better fight and spectacular alternate in place of Pacquiao-Mayweather.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com