Most fans who you talk with emphatically believe there will be a rematch between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao after they fight on May 2nd. And with so many feeling that way, you have to ask what does that tell you?
I believe it strongly conveys many boxing observers and aficionados feel regardless of who wins, the fight is going to go the distance and the outcome will most likely not be conclusive via the decision rendered. This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.
If you examine their careers over the last six years or so, it’s almost impossible to deduce that the bout will end by KO/TKO (although I feel the odds of that are greater than most others do). Mayweather, who has never been viewed as a fighter who wins inside the distance, hasn't scored a clean stoppage since he TKO’d Ricky Hatton in the 10th round back in December of 2007. Yes, he stopped Victor Ortiz in September of 2011, but that was due to him nailing Ortiz with a sucker punch when Victor stupidly and unnecessarily extended his hands to touch gloves with Floyd after a break during the fight.
Pacquiao, who is the perceived puncher in the bout, hasn't been laying a trail of splattered bodies across the ring either. Manny hasn't won by stoppage in his last nine bouts going all the way back to November of 2009. So if we go by both fighters’ recent track record, the odds are heavily in favor the outcome of Mayweather-Pacquiao will be decided by the three judges appointed to score the fight by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. And the thought of that should scare both fighters and their fans.
What a stellar resume Nevada boxing judges have compiled over the past few years. Remember how one judge scored the Mayweather-Alvarez fight a draw? It's almost impossible to justify Alvarez winning a single round of that fight – yet one judge scored six of them in his favor? And that was nine months after two judges scored the first Pacquiao-Bradley fight for Bradley. That was another atrocious decision in which the wrong fighter had his hand raised, and that ultimately set up the rematch in which Pacquiao jogged to a decision victory. With inconsistent Vegas judging in mind…would anyone be surprised if Mayweather or Pacquiao won a decision where the real score should be something like 116-112 or even 117-111, however we end up getting a majority or split decision? This would of course ignite the talk of an immediate rematch that the economics will dictate.
The post-fight narrative will supersede what actually takes place in the ring, if at all possible. And the promoters will try and make the viewer’s question what they saw, and the strange thing is that they'll be able to do that.
In order for that not to be the case there has to be a clean stoppage by either fighter. If the fight goes to a decision it's highly probable the ending will be controversial. Is it really plausible that if one of them doesn't bash the other that the supporters of the losing fighter will not cry their guy was robbed? Of course they'll say that and the promoters and everyone else will feed into it. And the reason for that is, there's nearly a billion dollars to be generated if just one simple thing happens….and that is Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fight a second time. It’s mind boggling that almost one billion dollars will be divvied up between the players involved if they can just take what will be the highest grossing fight in history and convince the public that for it to really mean anything, the two fighters have to meet one more time. That doesn't seem like such a tough sell does it?
I know that former undisputed heavyweight/cruiserweight champion Evander Holyfield has said a few times that the boxing establishment doesn't want Floyd Mayweather to retire undefeated. This is a view that is shared by others who follow the sport closely. It's also a view that I don't share and actually think the opposite is more in play. Many think for there to be a rematch, Mayweather must lose to Pacquiao by hook or by crook on May 2nd. Once again I disagree with the masses and implicitly believe Mayweather can win the fight and the odds are still great that he and Manny will go at it once more.
Let’s assume the fight goes the distance and Mayweather wins by decision. Say the scores are 116-112, 117-111 and 115-113, but 115-113 is the hardest to justify. You can be assured there will be a large faction of Pacquiao supporters who will highlight the 115-113 score, because in rounds that's 7-5, and they'll stress how if that judge changed on one round, he'd have the fight a draw. And if you flip one of the close rounds on the other two cards you end up with scores favoring Mayweather 115-113, 116-112 and 114-114. Suddenly the fight becomes really close and pretty soon the fact that Floyd controlled the fight most of the way will become a distant memory. Of course you'll also hear how “Manny made the fight. He pushed Mayweather every second and Floyd just ran. If it hadn't been for Pacquiao, there wouldn't have even been a fight.” And that will gain momentum.
Floyd will then likely rationalize in his mind, I won and it wasn't even my toughest fight. And for another 150 plus million dollars or more, I'll take him to school again. Thus thinking to himself, Pacquiao can't do anything differently in a rematch but bring more of the same of what didn't work the first time. But I can be better because after being in the ring with him for 12 rounds, I know what he can and can't do and I'm the type of fighter who can adjust, and I will.
The way I see it, if the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight goes to a decision, and the odds are it will, regardless of who wins the loser will have many making the case for him that he really won. So without a clean stoppage, in spite of how one-sided the fight may turn out to be, the decision will be seen as controversial and the drumbeat for a rematch will begin. And with nearly another half a billion dollars just waiting to be plucked from the willing public, who is going to object? In fact it seems almost as if a majority of boxing fans are counting on Mayweather and Pacquiao fighting twice.
The only thing that could throw the above scenario off is if Mayweather loses a decision in which he wholeheartedly believes that he won, the way Marvin Hagler felt after losing a split decision to Sugar Ray Leonard. Does Floyd say screw it like Hagler did and walk away from the sport never to been seen or heard from again?
I don't think Mayweather would respond like Hagler, but the possibility certainly exists.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com