Published on Tuesday, 11 December 2007 21:24
by Jody Kohn
Saturday night in Las Vegas was supposed to be another dominating win for Manny Pacquiao, perhaps finally setting up the clash between Pacman and the sport's other titan, Floyd Mayweather Jr. After years of trash talking and failed negotiations, boxing fans were possibly in line for the biggest fight boxing has seen in decades. Who would win, the always smiling, national hero Manny Pacquiao or the polarizing, undefeated trash talker Floyd Mayweather Jr? Everyone had a strong opinion on it, but there was no clear consensus.
Fast forward to Saturday night where Pacquiao gave an uninspired performance against a fighter who most considered to be on the backside of his career. The same fighter that Mayweather Jr. so thoroughly dominated when they met earlier. Most observers scored the fight in favor of Juan Manuel Marquez, and those who scored it for Manny seemed to need to convince themselves that they were correct in doing so.
In the course of 12 rounds, the dream matchup we have all clamored for lost most of its luster. It is unlikely Pacquiao's biggest fans will lose faith in his ability to defeat Mayweather, but after last night there was a massive shift in who the neutral fan was picking to win if and when they finally meet. Message boards, Twitter, Facebook, and any other source of social media was flooded with people wondering how Manny could hang with Floyd if he could not even win convincingly against an opponent many consider to be far inferior.
There was a lot of immediate speculation that this fight would open up the possibility of the fight being made because Floyd would see that Manny is vulnerable and may be easy pickings for him. While that may or may not be true, even if the fight is made, it will no longer be quite the special event it could have been if it had been fought previously. Before the crowd would have been so evenly divided that there would have been no clear cut favorite. Now, instead of an even split, a fight between the two would have Mayweather Jr. as a clear favorite while people wondered if Pacquiao could somehow overcome great odds and pull off the upset. It would still be the biggest fight in years, but no longer would it be a clash of superpowers many anticipated.
The result of all this is that once again boxing has shot itself in the foot. The sport has been on the decline for years, while at the same time dangling over our heads the possibility of a super fight that would shine a spotlight on it that it hasnt had in a long time. All anyone has wanted to talk about for several years is the possibility of these two meeting and who would win in a matchup between them. Had the fight been made previously, boxing would have received mainstream coverage it has so sorely missed since the days Mike Tyson ruled the ring. Instead they pushed their luck, dragging it on for longer than they needed to, hoping to build even more the hype surrounding a fight between them. Last night it all came crashing down on them.
You can blame whoever you want for the fight not happening before now. Manny wouldn't take the test, Floyd demanding the test, the promoters haggling over the smallest details. All can be argued to death, and have been. But the real culprit is boxing itself for letting so many separate self interests dictate what gets done. And the biggest losers are the fans, who after all the build up deserved to see these two square off while at the absolute peak of their abilities. Instead, any meeting between the two will seem to most to be too little too late.