Friday, May 1, 2015

Mayweather-Pacquiao: Better Late Than Never

By Warren Rodriguez (@RodrigWM)

Ok, so you knew that I was going to come out of hibernation for this one. Six years in the making, but it's finally upon us: The fight of the Century, Pacquiao-Mayweather. It doesn't even feel real putting those two names together. This fight is like a throwback to boxing's past when the whole world would stand still for a major fight.

So, after all these years, what does this fight really mean? Mayweather-Pacquiao has the potential to be the 3rd biggest fight in boxing history after Louis-Schmeling II and Ali-Frazier I, and it also has the potential to be a bigger bust than Jamarcus Russell, so where will it fall? My guess is somewhere in the middle.

Both fighters come into the fight past their prime. Mayweather at 38 and Pacquiao at 36 aren't quite what they use to be. The fight isn't past its expiration date, but its definitely past its "best by" date.

What makes the fight a must-see still is Mayweather's "0." If Pacman beats Mayweather on May 2nd, Mayweather's legacy comes tumbling down. Mayweather has marketed himself as this undefeated, unbeatable fighter that simply cannot lose, and is quick to remind everyone that he has never taken a defeat as a professional fighter. Every Mayweather fan uses that as their only argument as to why he is the greatest. So if he loses, what does he have?

It's hard to imagine a world without an undefeated Mayweather, but that could be a very real possibility after May 2nd.

Pacman's legacy is pretty much set win or lose, beating Mayweather would be just another (very large) notch in his belt. Pacquiao doesn't need this win the way Mayweather does to keep his legacy intact.

What this fight can do is give boxing the revival that it's been looking for. If both fighters can engage in an exciting fight it will bring renewed interest to the sport and, with boxing finally back on network television, there's a much greater audience to reach. 

Mayweather and Pacquiao need to put on a spectacular show to justify fans spending a Benjamin Franklin to watch the fight, average ticket prices being around $10,000, and around $500 just to attend the way-in.

The promotion of the fight was sloppy at best, and seemed quickly put together with the fight not being agreed to until February, making it tough to promote such a huge event in less than three months. Plus, with both sides bickering over ticket allotments, tickets didn't go on sale for the event until less than two weeks before fight night.

Mayweather-Pacquiao will almost assuredly fall short of expectations. It's hard to imagine these two at this stage engaging in an epic war that will go down for the ages. Pacquiao will put pressure on Mayweather early and try and bring the fight to him. Pacquiao needs to use his awkward fighting style to keep Mayweather off balance and use his left to try and penetrate the Mayweather guard.

If Pacquiao can throw punches in bunches and use his aggression effectively it can make for a close competitive contest. However, if Mayweather is able to use his height advantage and time Pacquiao it could be a long night for the Philipino southpaw. If Mayweather is able to build a healthy lead on the scorecards, expect him to channel his inner Lance Armstrong and turn this into a dull affair in the later rounds.

No matter the outcome, I think boxing fans who have been waiting for this fight for six years will be left with a sense of what could have been: What if these two had fought six years ago? Could we have been treated to a three or four fight affair, similar to what Pacquiao and Marquez gave us?

Could this have been like Bird vs Magic or Chamberlain vs Russell? Instead, it's looking more like Ewing vs Mourning.

One thing for sure is though, this fight needs to happen. Even though it is a little late, it is better late than never. 

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