Pacquiao vs Mayweather was mostly about the money, boxing was an after-thought

On an average, Pacquiao throws around 700 punches a bout. But against Mayweather -- his count at the end of 12 rounds stood at just 429.

Ashish Magotra May 04, 2015 18:35:38 IST
Pacquiao vs Mayweather was mostly about the money, boxing was an after-thought

A fight five years in the making, two legendary boxers, the stars (from Michael Jordan to Clint Eastwood to Justin Bieber to Claire Danes) with ringside seats and a multi-million dollar payout. The hype surrounding the Manny Pacquiao vs Floyd Mayweather 'Fight of The Century' was immense and in the end, perfect for television.

The welterweight bout between a man who was living on the streets when he took up boxing at the age of 16 and went on the become an inspiration for all of the Phillipines and an undefeated boxer with a 47-0 record was a tantalising prospect -- not just because of the storyline but also because of the contrast of their styles. Manny is an all-out aggressive boxer, whose style borders on the reckless and Mayweather is the defensive counter-puncher who just doesn't get hit.

But what played out at the end of the day was a big disappointment. At no point did the fighters push themselves to the limit; at no point were they really desperate; at no point were the fighters in danger of being knocked out; at no point were two legends part of a fight that would be remembered for ages; at no point did they look like they wanted to create a 'Rumble in the MGM' or anything of its kind.

Pacquiao vs Mayweather was mostly about the money boxing was an afterthought

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao fought the richest ever fight. Reuters

In fact, but for a short phase in the fourth round when Manny connected with a solid left hand that sent Mayweather into the ropes, the fight was a dull exhibition of why boxing is clearly past its hey day. Things only became worse after the fight when Pacquiao said a shoulder injury hampered his bid.

"In the third round, I felt pain in the shoulder," eight-division world champion Pacquiao told reporters after dropping to 57-6-2. "We didn't throw a lot of combinations because it hurt."

"The thing is, what we wanted to do we could not do because of my (right) shoulder."

Now, this was an injury that Pacquiao carried into the fight. His trainer Freddie Roach said the injury occurred after Pacquiao collided with another fighter during sparring and their arms got entangled.

In an ideal world, Pacquiao - a 2-1 underdog going into the bout - would have wanted to get back to 100 percent before entering the ring against a boxer who had never been beaten. But instead, one can't help but assume, the money (there was lots of it -- a minimum of $120 million win or lose) forced his hand and that is a bit of a shame. This was a fight that had potential to be really great but in the end, that is all it had - potential.

"You guys saw the fight yourself. When you review the film, you'll see how infrequently he threw the right," said Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum.

Pacquiao needed to have both his right and left in perfect working order to force the slippery Mayweather into a corner and keep him there. But without the threat of the right hook, there was no fear. Time and again, Mayweather would calmly 'run away.'

On an average, Pacquiao throws around 700 punches a bout. But against Mayweather -- his count at the end of 12 rounds stood at just 429. This wasn't the expected barrage -- this was a walk on the beach.

Arum also said that Pacquiao's camp initially believed he would be allowed an anti-inflammatory injection before the bout, but Nevada Athletic Commission denied the request at the 11th hour. But the commission said Pacquiao’s team failed to file the paperwork required for the injury, and left officials with no option but to refuse Pacquiao the injection.

Some might even read that as the Pacquiao camp intentionally goofing up the paperwork. At 36, with his powers waning, the Phillipine legend will probably never have a pay day like this again. Was the temptation too much? Was the 'Fight of the Century' simply the 'Con of the Century'?

The point they are making is that they knew he wasn't up to it but the tickets had been sold, the rights had been marketed, the money had been made -- so which fool would turn all that down? As celebrated boxing writer AJ Liebling once wrote, 'Television's not concerned with the sport, only the sale of beer and razor blades.'

Television brings a lot of money into the sport. But it also at some level induces a kind of native pessimism... the kind of pessimism that tells you these guys are all doing it for the money. In some cases, that might seem unwarranted but the in the case of the #ManPac fight it seemed justified. We have seen in cricket -- the final of the 2007 World Cup being played under the almost ludicrous moonlight.

In tennis, one Rafael Nadal match recently ended at 3:21 am. During the football World Cup, teams were forced to play at mid-day because TV wanted it so. In golf, we used to have the 18-hole playoff. The tied players would return the next day and play another round of 18 holes but TV decided that it wasn't worth it -- so the organizers followed suit. The only Major tournament that still uses this method is the US Open. The rest have all decided to end the tournament on the Sunday through sudden death or a short playoff.

Pacquiao and Mayweather put on a show – just not a memorable one. Before the fight Mayweather said he is the greatest but this isn't how Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Sugar Ray, The Hitman, Hagler or even Mike Tyson would have fought.

Many tuned in expecting an interesting and probably a great fight but nine times out of ten, the bigger guy will win. Add Pacquiao's shoulder injury to the mix -- there is no way Mayweather would not have known about that -- and the winner became clear as hell. Only we didn't have a clue.

But on television, they still said it was a great fight. Believe what you will.

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