As the judges’ score cards were passed to the announcer, an ominous cloud loomed for real fans of the sweet science.
We’re talking about the real fans who populated the MGM Grand Theatre a day before that generated the electricity at the weigh in. The real fans who saw fit to go to the Palms Hotel two days before, or tune into that special taping of “Friday Night Fights” in hopes of getting an early glimpse of the future torch bearers of the sport, like they did Nov. 10, 2001, to watch the HBO broadcast of Floyd Mayweather versus Jesus Chavez in the main event, with the Manny Pacquiao-Agapito Sanchez title bout on the undercard.
These fans were the people who, for the most part, were denied the chance to see the fight in the flesh because of extremely limited ticket availability or the astronomical prices attached to tickets they may have been able to get their hands on. For these fans, after consuming the fight however they could, the crystal-clear victory was going to have a negative connotation. Anything short of a classic slugfest was going to be a disappointment.
But the immediate backlash says that more harm than good was accomplished. Some are even saying that the damage is irrefutable. The casual fans who were courted probably won’t be back. They bought into the hype and were underwhelmed by the main event. To offset that possibility, one would think that a super card would be assembled. Having boxers on the cusp of stardom (no disrespect to Vasyl Lomachenko or Leo Santa Cruz) duke it out in competitive fights would have provided at least some bang for the buck and perhaps piqued interest in the career of future fighters. As for the core audience, some of their gripes were addressed in the opening stanza. In a sense, their loyalties and appreciation were taken for granted and may take a second to come back. But honestly, why should they?
The winner and still undefeated, Floyd “Money” Mayweather.
Having boos rain down on the victor, who happens to be the biggest star in the game, on the biggest stage that boxing has seen in years is one thing. But the one-sided acrimony suggests that maybe something else is at the core. To keep it a stack, Floyd Mayweather did Floyd Mayweather! Airtight defense, a jab that kept his opponent at bay as well as providing a catalyst to mount his offense and laser-like, crisp right hands. Those were the basics. Intellect, instincts and opportunity rounded out the game plan.
“Manny Pacquiao is a hell of a boxer, and I can see why he’s where he’s at in the sport of boxing, but I knew I had him in round one,” says Mayweather. “Anything I do is calculated. I’m 10 steps ahead of any fighter.”
A key component to being steps ahead is to minimize taking shots. If a fighter lands a punch, he has to earn it. That style, although effective, isn’t always aesthetically pleasing, about which Mayweather says, “It’s all about working smarter, not harder. I don’t want to wait until I’m almost 40 to start taking abuse on my body.”
A rumored obstacle to this matchup occurring years ago was the issue of random testing for performance- enhancing drugs. After the fight May 2, maybe Pacquiao should’ve been tested for medications that make you delusional, as he proclaimed himself to have won the fight. The logic of aggressors is being administered with that thought process, but if this was, say, basketball, “it’s not who shoots the most, it’s who scores the most,” or as Floyd said simply, “He was applying pressure, but he wasn’t landing any punches.”
Having the belief that you were the victor is understandable, but for Pacquiao and his team to allude to a shoulder injury before the fight were uncharacteristically classless. But it wasn’t unexpected. He was the fan favorite and media darling going into the fight, Mayweather having been cast as evil. Pacquiao’s manager resorted to the tactic of claiming that Mayweather once used domestic violence as a motivating factor, citing his stint in prison in 2011 as proof. Major media outlets followed suit and again this story is making its way back into the public consciousness. At the same time, however, the fact that he took down the ESPY Award in 2012, 2013 and 2014 for Fighter of the Year was overlooked.
Pompous, arrogant and cowardly are some of the adjectives used in describing Mayweather, but sincere has to be added to the equation. He’s about his paper and is unapologetic and loud about it. Gettin’ it at the rate and volume that he’s generating it makes him a target.
Manny, you and your crew had your shot at the bull’s eye, and you couldn’t shoulder the responsibility. No excuses.
Over and out. Holla next week. Until then, enjoy the nightlife.