There was a time when boxing — like the Indianapolis 500 and horse racing — were at the forefront of public consciousness.
In the halcyon days, Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler — the list goes on and on — were as popular as NFL and baseball stars and a precursor to NBA heroes, as that sport really didn’t explode until Magic Johnson and Larry Bird came along in the 1980s.
Boxing has drifted into oblivion. In fact in the world where people are paid to beat each other up, it’s been surpassed by Mixed Martial Arts because of the savagery and blood-letting.
For one night, though, boxing had a chance to recapture some of its lost glory. The long-overdue and latest “Fight of the Century” took place Saturday in Las Vegas between Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Fans ponied up id="mce_marker"00 apiece to watch it on Pay Per View and much more than that if they were in actual attendance.
Fans today are still waiting to see a fight.
I had the opportunity to view this “fight” and as the old saying goes, “there’s a sucker born every second.”
This was 12 rounds of pillow fighting. Of course, the philosophy of boxing is to hit and not be hit. Both boxers did this masterfully, with an emphasis on the latter.
Believe me, there was little hitting in this snoozer. According to stats, Mayweather was was touched only 81 times in the 12 rounds, not even seven times a round. No wonder he was daisy-fresh when the fight ended. Heck, he probably could have gone another 12 or 24 rounds like they did in the bare-knuckle days of Jack Johnson and John L. Sullivan.
For all the animosity leading up to the fight — to get people to plunk down their hard-earned money — it was little more than a lovefest. Pacquiao spent much of the night smiling and Mayweather didn’t display his usual bravado. I was expecting him to belittle after Pacquiao after dominating the 12 rounds, but all he did was lavish praise.
There were no references to Ali, who is still the greatest of all time and did all he could to keep the sport breathing. Mayweather reportedly said in the pre-fight buildup that he was greater than “The Greatest.”
Not a chance. I watched Ali growing up as a young Cassius Clay and nobody was close to being in his class in his prime. It’s just sad he hung on way too long, leading to his near-incapacitated state now.
This would have been a great fight as little as five years ago, but Mayweather is 38 and Pacquiao is 36. I think Mayweather purposely balked for years just to get more and more cash poured into this money pit. One thing the guy knows how to do is make money. He needs it, considering all the legal fees he has piled up for his alleged domestic violence incidents.
Mayweather is near-perfect technically, but doesn’t pack a big punch. I was expecting Pacquiao to be a buzzsaw and pressure Mayweather on the inside. But Mayweather was so slippery and elusive that Pacquiao spent most of the night swinging at air.
Perhaps most amazing about the night was that Pacquiao actually thought he had won the fight. I was in disbelief after he said that, perhaps trying to gin up interest in Mayweather-Pacquiao II.
I think the only response we’ll hear to that is the sound of crickets.