Is a Mayweather-Pacquiao Fight Still Relevant?

So it looks like our long national nightmare is over. Manny and Money are finally going to get it on. Since the announcement last week, the internet has been ablaze with huzzahs and hosannas. The ship finally came in, boys! But not to everyone. If you peek around the edges, you will find a small vocal minority that questions not only the timing of the fight, but its very relevance. By and large, these complaints come not from the casual sports fan who quite likely can’t name another fighter outside of the aforementioned two, but rather from hardcore types like me.

I agree to a point on the timing. It would have been far better to catch these two five years ago when both were in peak form. Both have shown signs of age and vulnerability in the last half decade and it’s unlikely it will be the fight we all hoped for. That remains to be seen of course, but it’s a reasonable belief.

That being said, would these cranky sorts be happier if the fight never happened? If the two greatest champions of their era, well matched by weight and skill never faced off? Look, I know bitterness can be its own reward, but that seems excessive.

Furthermore, it’s not always about us. And by us, I mean those of us so fully devoted to the sport that we can rattle off the details, scorecards, and rounds of great and even not so great fights from years gone by. Boxing has been in trouble for a long time, folks. Outside of the mismanagement at the top, the credibility killing decisions made by “judges”, and just the general lack of access to the sport for the casual fan, widespread interest in the fight game is at a near all-time low. I don’t know about you, but when people find out I love boxing, they often look at me like I’m in a cult. I’d swear some were not even aware the sport still existed.

Well, that’s about to change. And right soon.

Why? Because people actually care about this. Not just you and me who suffer through bad fights on ESPN and come way out of pocket for pay cable and PPV just to get our fix, but folks who would otherwise not go out of their way to watch a match if it were taking place in their own backyard. Boxing once again has buzz. And man, does it need it.

This is a thing to be grateful for, not to raise a stink eye at.

Some of the criticisms I’ve heard from boxing lifers are curious, but worth mentioning. One social mediate claimed the fight was irrelevant because Marquez flattened Manny in August of 2012. Logic does not meet its match here. I wonder if anyone would make the same argument about Joe Frazier after he got crushed by George Foreman. If so, then the “Thrilla in Manilla” would have never happened just two years later. Oh sure, Ali-Frazier 3 had the benefit of the other two parts of the trilogy, but the setting is similar–two slow fading giants going head to head, despite wear on the tires. If we all remember correctly, that was one hell of a fight. Regardless of what Frazier and Ali were short of when they entered the ring on that fabled eve.

I’ve also heard that the fight is not likely to be a good one not only because of length of the tooth, but because of the way Floyd fights. Again, this may end up being true. However, that does not mean it will be short on drama. Consider the Hagler-Leonard fight. Take away the names of those two fighters and ask yourself, “Was that a great fight?” You had Hagler practically begging Sugar Ray to actually fight and you had Leonard running around the ring for 2 ½ minutes and then stealing rounds by slapping Marvin furiously on the shoulders for the final 30 seconds. Still, the names made that fight. People watched because of who was in the ring. Because they didn’t know they would ever see those two face off. The same is true here.

People want to know who is better. Besides, the will they/won’t they nature of the last several years has created its own sex appeal. It’s like we finally caught that girl we’ve been chasing all those years. Maybe neither of us are as good looking as we were when the hunt began, but we aren’t sorry to be where we are now. Or at least we shouldn’t be.

I even read one person on Facebook argue the fight wasn’t relevant “just because people want to see it.” Which I found fascinating. I suppose you can argue that overwhelming interest in an event doesn’t equal relevance, but that seems a high hill to climb. On the other hand, extreme levels of indifference most certainly equal irrelevance. Just consider the alternatives to this bout. Manny or Money taking on Amir Khan? Mayweather/Cotto 2? Hell, I can’t get excited about any of those options, I have no idea how anyone outside the inner sanctum of boxing could.

So yes, this fight is relevant because large numbers of people want to see it. Not only that, but it is the absolute best thing for boxing. A sport that has deeply waning appeal to the casual fan will for at least one night be the biggest thing going. That’s good because, you know, that’s how you grow things. Having stuff that interests people. Manny and Money interest people. This is hardly a small thing. Boxing needs event fights. This surely qualifies.

Quick. Name me the big event fight from 2014 that stirred the masses, that led off SportsCenter, that made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Ready? Go.

Yeah, crickets. Just like I thought.

Once again, I agree the fight may not have all the juice it would have back when Floyd was still inescapable and Manny was the whirling dervish leaping weight classes and busting up bigger opponents like he was on a mission (he kinda was, wasn’t he?). We have a little over two months before this fight happens. And yes, I know there is many a slip betwixt a cup and Floyd’s lip. This could still go south over god only knows what. Should it not though, imagine what this leap into spring is going to be like? As the fight grows closer, what will people be talking about? They will be talking about boxing. I repeat, BOXING.

You can be cynical about this match up if you choose to. That’s not hard to do. It may make you feel superior on some level, I suppose. As for me, I know a gift when I receive one. I also know it would be bad manners to return it.

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COMMENTS

-michaelabii :

I disagree with the writers implied jibe that Hagler/Leonard was not great. It certainly did not equal Hagler/Hearns nor Ward/Gatty in terms of brutality but great fights are all about the pre fight tension they generate. Certainly Hagler/Leonard was fought at a great skill level and high intensity. Who will forget Leonards flurries in round 9 when I thought he was about to go. With the bar set so high for Mayweather/Pac its almost inevitable that the actual fight itself will fall short of the average fight-fans expectations. But for hardcore fight-fans and aficionados this is the big one - the anticipation; the debates regarding pre fight strategy, 24/7 e.t.c. Yes - this fight is still relevant for this reason; it will save boxing ! It will draw mainstream sports-fans and remind everyone what a major sporting event besides the Superbowl can be and most of all it will remind everyone that Boxing in all its glory on fight night completely dwarfs any major UFC or WWE event.


-sumopop :

That was my point about Hagler/Leonard. If that's two Joe Blows in the ring, or even some mid-level to good fighters, no one remembers it. The drama and tension were created by the names and history involved. That only exists because of who Hagler and Leonard were. Otherwise, it's not an overly great fight. It was a great event.--David Phillips


-Domenic :

It's definitely relevant, and great for the sport. Agreed that the uninspiring alternatives other than each other played a major role in this being consummated. Hopefully they get the undercard right. This is huge. But the bar is so high that anything short of Chavez-Taylor 1 will result in disappointment to today's 'average' fan. With regard to Leonard-Hagler, the drama in that fight was that Ray Leonard was moving up in weight to fight a dominant champion, with no tune-up, and a 3 year layoff in which his last win, against a modicum-above-a-journeyman level guy, spurred him to re-retire. To say it was a daunting task is understatement; thus, the fight had an implicit edge-of-your-seat drama based simply on Ray surviving and not being knocked out, or badly, badly damaged.


-sumopop :

All good points, Domenic.


-The Commish :

It's definitely relevant, and great for the sport. Agreed that the uninspiring alternatives other than each other played a major role in this being consummated. Hopefully they get the undercard right. This is huge. But the bar is so high that anything short of Chavez-Taylor 1 will result in disappointment to today's 'average' fan. With regard to Leonard-Hagler, the drama in that fight was that Ray Leonard was moving up in weight to fight a dominant champion, with no tune-up, and a 3 year layoff in which his last win, against a modicum-above-a-journeyman level guy, spurred him to re-retire. To say it was a daunting task is understatement; thus, the fight had an implicit edge-of-your-seat drama based simply on Ray surviving and not being knocked out, or badly, badly damaged.
All perfect points, Domenic. MMH was drooling for this fight for years. He had wiped the floor with his middleweight challengers and saw SRL as the crowning jewel on his, well, Marvelous career. MMH was certain he was going to beat SRL. Absolutely certain. He was so positive that victory would be his that he gave into every one of Leonard's demands. Bigger gloves. A huge ring. Twelve rounds instead of 15. One month before the fight, I had a one-on-one audience with Hagler in a special interview. He was not just confident. He was over-confident. "I will knock out Ray Leonard with the first solid punch I land," he told me. He can't outbox me and he certainly can't outslug me. If he tries to run on me I will simply cut the ring off and punish his body." I asked about the concessions Hagler gave into, and if he was worried any of them would come back to haunt him. "My job was to get him inside of a boxing ring," Hagler told me. "I did that. The size of the ring, the gloves and the amount of rounds will not matter. Neither will the referee or the judges. The judges will not be necessary, because I will knock Ray out. The ref? All he has to do is be able to count to 10 or stop the fight at the right moment, before Ray gets hurt." We saw just how wrong Hagler was that night, as Leonard took a hairline decision, with judges JJ Guerra and Dave Moretti scoring in his favor and veteran Lou Filippo scoring 115-113 for Hagler. All three officials will be of utmost importance in Manny v Money, but more on that later and on another thread. Is the fight relevant? You bet it is. Of course, this should be the second or third fight between them, but we should be thankful we're getting at least this one. If it turns into Gatti-Ward I--or anything similar--we'll have Manny-Money II, possibly a very short time later. However, don't expect Gatti-Ward I. Or II or III. Or Hagler-Hearns. This is going to be Manny v Money. If not a great fight, it is a great event. The world is going to come to a stop that day. No matter how it turns out, it's relevant. Very relevant! -Randy G.


-#1 PacFan :

Spot on! This fight is relevant! Let's use myself as an example. I joined this great site at around. 07 or 08. I remember being QON: Manny fight Floyd at 140 would be a great fight. Not quite exact words but something like that. Then there was a buzz! Manny was plowing through his oppents like a mad farmer. Floyd in the meantime did his thing and just kept winning. As the years went by people started to lose faith and lose interest. But at the same time still wanted to see the fight. My long absence tho didn't keep me from this great sport. Still watch all the great events, cheered Manny on; and watch Floyd if he still had it. My point is no matter what if it was two years later was this fight made people would still love to see the fight. Like the saying goes better late than never. I expect to see a great fight come May 2nd. Manny by MD or 9th round stoppage.


-The Commish :

Spot on! This fight is relevant! Let's use myself as an example. I joined this great site at around. 07 or 08. I remember being QON: Manny fight Floyd at 140 would be a great fight. Not quite exact words but something like that. Then there was a buzz! Manny was plowing through his oppents like a mad farmer. Floyd in the meantime did his thing and just kept winning. As the years went by people started to lose faith and lose interest. But at the same time still wanted to see the fight. My long absence tho didn't keep me from this great sport. Still watch all the great events, cheered Manny on; and watch Floyd if he still had it. My point is no matter what if it was two years later was this fight made people would still love to see the fight. Like the saying goes better late than never. I expect to see a great fight come May 2nd. Manny by MD or 9th round stoppage.
Welcome back, #1PacFan. I think you have competition from Radam G as far as being a Manny Pacquiao worshipper. -Randy G.


-#1 PacFan :

Thanks Randy! Glad to be back. Oh yes it was crazy back then. Back and forth between Manny and Floyd fans. It was all fun and brought out the best in all of us.


-Scar :

Yes it is. It could have happened in 2017 and still would've been relevant.


-Skibbz :

It's like the girl you've been hitting on for 5 years every day, thinking about her every night and there's nothing but hopes and rejection for you to cling to. Then after all this time out of the blue she comes back and says she wants to flex. Anyone saying they wouldn't still hit it is a liar. Fully agree with Scar. This fight will always be relevant even if both guys were in there 40s. We the boxing public want to know who the man is in the ring between them, and no other two boxers attract so much heated debate. Casino's in London are already having their first rooms booked out. This is the fight of this generation!!!


-The Commish :

Since this fight has been announced, I hear sportscasters who never speak about boxing speaking about this fight. I have already been a guest on at least 20 radio shows, none of which ever give boxing any kind of exposure. I also notice it bigtime in Lifetime Fitness, the 5,000 member gym I belong to in a ritzy area on Long Island. I have members--who know nothing about boxing--coming up to me knowing me only because I am a longtime trainer at the club, and asking tons of questions about the fight. To me, that tells me a lot. The news, curiosity and interest in this fight is reaching far outside of boxing circles and our small little community. This fight has everybody talking about it. By Fight Week, this is going to be like the Super Bowl, World Series, Final Four, The Indy 500, the Kentucky Derby, Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Masters rolled into one. That makes it relevant. -Randy G.


-stormcentre :

I wonder what would happen if you asked Ferdie Pacheco; "is MayPac still relevant?" I reckon his answer would be acceptably insulting, dry, and humorous enough to make me laugh. My answer (to the question) is; "yes - of course". Look at these forums - they alone tell you it is exceptionally relevant regardless of the reasons upon which that relevance rests. Cool article David.


-The Commish :

I wonder what would happen if you asked Ferdie Pacheco; "is MayPac still relevant?" I reckon his answer would be acceptably insulting, dry, and humorous enough to make me laugh. My answer (to the question) is; "yes - of course". Look at these forums - they alone tell you it is exceptionally relevant regardless of the reasons upon which that relevance rests. Cool article David.
My wife and I just came back from breakfast (we're in Florida, about to leave for four days in Turks & Caicos, a small island a few hundred miles east of Cuba). I am wearing a shirt with "Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson" emblazoned across the front. Several people commented on the shirt, then mentioned the upcoming Manny-Money fight. With every passing day, I realize just how relevant the fight really is. -Randy G.


-stormcentre :

I thought you might like that cowboy story of one of my previously (wasted) lives. ;)


-razorramon :

this fight is irrelevant for 5-6 years of waiting to happen. floyd said he is giving the fans they want the best fight there is in paper. Yet floyd is charging the fans too much money for the tickets and PPV cost. Only the one who can afford can watch live.....great rip off floyd.....Pacquiao and top rank has nothing to with this they are on the b side..floyd control this fight...rip off fans..let us not buy this fight anyway it is happening and we will know who is the best the following day..watch it on the replay.


-Radam G :

You can bet your arse that the scrap is "revelant." It is all about prizefighting. The Money May's getting-his-arse-handed-to him is for the biggest prizefight of all times. Da heck with da gusto! Go for da prize. And take your arse thrashing like a man from "Manila Ice." Hehehe! Holla!