Expectations were fierce as we counted down to the supposed Fight of the Century, no surprise since every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Woodsy was flogging the heck out of the hype drum, obsessing on every minute detail, breathlessly reporting on every bowel movement performed by the principals as we all looked to May 2.
And then the fight happened, and the blowback was swift and fairly severe. We paid how much for THAT?
I admit I'm still processing the event, what it meant to me, to boxing, to boxing journalism, being that journos had their credentials dangled over their head and some were shut out of the clash, because they wrote or said things that didn't pass muster with some powers that be who are obsessive and ruthless about controlling dissent.
I looked for some clues, to what happened, and for some guidance, I guess, on how to move foreword, in the epilogue episode of Inside Mayweather/Pacquiao, the Showtime produced documercial series.
The spectacle didn't satisfy the “public's bloodlust,” we heard the narrator intone. So, points for honesty, as we were told this was the quintessential Mayeather effort. Spectacle was promised, but something more subtle was in fact handed over, we are told. So far, so good..
We travel back, to the beginning of fight week, when hoped reigned in the brains of the Pac-maniacs. Manny snubbed the official MGM grand welcoming, you recall. Manny spoke and said his confidence was “one hundred percent,” and didn't give any hint that his right shoulder was hurting him.
Then, we see a marching band accompanying Floyd at his welcoming event. Floyd fields questions, and smacks down Manny for no showing and not “being professional.” We hear that Floyd is less keen than usual to deal with fans and media. Was he on edge, worried about losing? We didn't see evidence of that on fight night, did we…
At the weigh in, which I managed to cover from the floor after Top Rank's Lee Samuels rescued me from the stands, where I was situated by the event planners, who sent their message what they thought of print media time and again, I saw Floyd look irked that Manny drew so much love. Did the boos bother him? I don't worry about that, Floyd said. Then he thanks the media for “doing a tremendous job,” though he chided them for writing negative stories at the post-fight presser. These contradictions are part of what make his personality as interesting as it is…
We see Floyd filling out paper-work for the commission. All medical conditions are supposed to be disclosed…Floyd recalls that he had an MRI from a headbutt. Manny, we hear, declares no injury…Cue harbinger music…
Then, we see pumped up fight fans. It's fight day and then fight night. Floyd heads to the arena. “This is history,” he says. He discusses what time he will walk to the ring, and reminds all that this is his show, he's in control.
Then, Freddie Roach watches Floyd get his hand wrapped. Roach doesn't like the thickness of the tape used and Floyd chuckles. Floyd mutters, as Roach discussed the gauze being used. “Floyd's demeanor remains unchanged,” the narrator says, and Floyd says it's another day at the office. Manny says he's excited for the clash. “I have something to prove,” the Congressman says.
Floyd walks to the ring and says, “It gets no bigger than Floyd Mayweather.” Ali fans know better, of course, but what is history worth, anyway, maybe the present is in fact what mostly matters, and predominately what should be trafficked in.
We see snippets from the fight…The Floyd crew chants TBE and Floyd Sr asks for more hard work. Roach calls for head movement and feints after the first…More video. Pacman lands and Floyd shakes his head to indicate there's no worry. “You have to take advantage of him on the ropes,” Roach says. Sr tells Floyd that he's fighting scared, and that was a dynamic that I found surprising and interesting, pretty rare for this promotion. Ah, the unfinished business and attachment issues playing out between those two..Senior tells the son that the judges might favor Pacman and thus, he wants more offense.
“It's been another quintessential Floyd Mayweather performance,” Mauro Ranallo tells us. “No matter what, I love you,” Jr tells Sr after the final bell rings, and dad tells him he done good. “I know I won,” Floyd barks at the fans, angrily, without serenity or joy, still something to prove making his blood boil, no matter how much he talks about being TBE. He is the best of this era, Ranallo tells us, and I concur. In the dressing room, Floyd accepts adulation, getting a hit of needed supply to bolster his ego, more fragile than he'd have you know.
Floyd is then happy, and brags about his one hundred million dollar check. Manny walks to the dressing room, and the narrator calls the event anti-climactic. We hear about his right shoulder injury, and Roach said the shoulder made the hook hard to throw. Floyd is told that Manny is talking the shoulder and he calls them “excuses, excuses, excuses.” He calls the explanation BS…Then, we see the commission try to throw Top Rank under the bus, with the announcement that they were not aware of a shoulder injury till fight night.
“Manny Pacquiao, he's not a better fighter than me,” Floyd says post-fight. The winner throws it in the face of the media for opining that he was a chicken. He wants us to write that we became believers, and still has that chip on his shoulder. Its part of what makes him such a superb pugilist, he uses it all as fuel…
Floyd soaks it up at an after party, and the narrator tells us the next question: who will he beat next?
My take: I admire all the sharp fight fans, even pretty casual ones, who note that Mayweather fought as he always does, and that he didn't promise to become Mike Tyson for this fight. The promotion, we know, made oodles of money, but most of us, when we reach a certain level of maturity and wisdom, comprehend the non-correlative relationship between money and earnings and quality. We can seperate the money side and the real worth of the faceoff in terms of legacy and payoff, and all in all, decide that the fight made a few people a load of money, underperformed from a drama standpoint, helped prove that Floyd is far and away the best fighter of his generation…and that there is no need for a sequel. One and done, that one wasn't all that much fun, looking back.