Violence in the name of sport has unfortunately been around even before the days of the gladiators during the Roman Empire. Boxing is no different. By all accounts, boxing is dead in many circles, replaced by the equally, or even more, violent MMA.
Why is it that we are so drawn to violence? For the most part a pacifist, football is one of my favourite sports (being a lifelong San Francisco 49ers in the NFL and Notre Dame Fighting Irish NCAA fan). For the big fights in boxing and in MMA, you’ll find me at a friend’s place glued to the set, rooting on my guy. How ironic.
In the court of public opinion, and believe me, I hate the media as much as the next person, in this day and age trying to create the news (or at least shaping public sentiment) instead of reporting on the news – Mayweather is a bad man, and Pacquiao a good one. I truly do believe the PacMan is good, so giving of his time giving to others, so humble, so universally beloved. I want to believe Mayweather is not as bad as he seems, that he’s not a woman-beater, that he’s not so egotistical, that he’s not a complete douchebag. But I think he is. That’s my opinion borne of my observations.
All that being said, this entry is more about these two men as boxers, rather than their character (hmmm… maybe the two are inextricably intertwined). Mayweather is the self-proclaimed greatest of all-time. Who’s the argue? The man has never lost. But, by anyone’s perspective on his career, undoubtedly good (maybe even a smudge below great), his 48-0 falls significantly short of Rocky Marciano’s hallowed 49 victories nary a defeat. Mayweather has spent almost twenty years avoiding a punch, throwing a strategic jab, and winning on points. As Stephen A. smith has repeatedly said, he’s “a boxer, not a fighter.” The sport is called boxing, not fighting; so Stephen A may have a point. Personally speaking, I don’t like watching Mayweather fights. They’re boring and they’re a waste of money. He’s made a living catching fighters past their prime. Five years ago? Pacquiao would have landed more punches and knocked him out. That’s my opinion. Mayweather supporters would say no matter what that his defense largely contributed to PacMan landing so few of his punches (significantly lower than his career averages).
Pacquiao is a different fighter. He is a fighter first and foremost, a true puncher. His mechanics are not brilliant, but he’s significantly more fun to watch. He’s an entertainer, knowing people have paid good money to watch him fight. So he gives the people what they want. And he always looks like he’s having fun doing it. He’s so soft-spoken and so humble; he’s so easily likeable. As a boxer, he is as fast as they come, got nerves of steel and a jaw to match. He can withstand a lot of pain, typically leaving himself open to jabs as he doesn’t always keep his hands up as high as they need to be when he’s on defense. Still, when he goes for it, he goes for it hard. That’s what was so surprising to me. In those rounds where he had Mayweather cornered, after a few flurries, he backed up and let Mayweather off the hook. I couldn’t understand it. Perhaps he was tired was an opinion offered by one of the viewers, but he’s a world class athlete trained to fight for this; he wasn’t gassed.
I thought Paquiao won rounds 2, 4, and two of the 9th, 10th, 11th rounds, but in the unofficial scoring, all three went to Mayweather. I was disappointed with the last round, which ended ho-hum, as I thought Manny knew he’d need to knock out Floyd to win, but afterwards, surprisingly said he thought he had won the fight. I’m not sure what fight Manny thought he had fought, but even I thought he hadn’t done enough. I was telling a friend before the fight, there was no way PacMan would win the fight by decision. Any round that was ambiguous would be given to Mayweather. There was no way his undefeated record would be put in jeopardy due to a decision, unless that decision was decisive. No. PacMan would need to knock him out (which makes it difficult given Floyd’s defensive brilliance). Unfortunately, he didn’t listen to LL Cool J or mama.
The greatest ever? “Child, please!” Tell that to Marciano, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield. Tell that to Manny Pacquiao.
My humble opinion? I saw the greatest of all time fight and box. His name was Muhammad Ali.
The greatest round I ever saw? Marvin Hagler v Thomas Hearns aka the Marvelous One vs the Hitman. I remember another round from another match, this time between Sugar Ray Leonard and (again) Marvelous Marvin Hagler, that was epic. They even had cooler nicknames back then. Both of them were both boxers and fighters, back when both meant the same thing.
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