The ugly truth about Pretty Boy Floyd
It's impossible not to write about the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight this week. It seems the entire world is talking about it. The consensus after the fight is that it was a farce, that the public was hoodwinked into believing that the 'Fight of the Century' was nothing more than a hoax. The fight itself was said to be boring by those who had expected a brawl.
Based on the hype going into the fight, they expected that both men would come rushing from their corners at the opening bell and try to create mayhem from Round One. When they didn't get that, many were left disappointed. It hasn't helped that Pacquiao has come out now suggesting that he was suffering from a torn rotator cuff prior to the fight. All that has done is sell the idea to the public that all was not 'real' last Saturday night, and for a fight that was so expensive to watch, many feel duped.
For those who have been watching Mayweather's career over the years, they shouldn't have been surprised by the way he fought. Even his biggest detractors agree that he may well be one of the greatest defensive fighters ever.
He has had his fair share of knockouts over his glittering career, but his modus operandi, certainly in the last half of his boxing life, has been to chip away at people, with steady jabs, and the occasional use of the right hand while making himself virtually unhittable. That was what we should have expected from him.
We expected more from the explosive Pacquiao. We had expected him to come out storming. We had expected him to test Mayweather's resolute defence with unwavering attack after attack. We saw only flashes. Rounds four and six saw Pacquiao delivering the kind of combinations that we thought he would have thrown all fight. For the most part, though Manny didn't live up to what was expected.
Maybe that was because his shoulder was not what it should be. Certainly that's what Pacquiao is trying to sell us, but I disagree. I'm not suggesting that his shoulder didn't affect him, but I thought he never took it to Floyd because he was like 'big 'fraid' even if Floyd was 'little 'fraid'. After talking up a storm for the last five years, Manny didn't want to be knocked out, didn't want to suffer the ignominy of hitting the canvas. He was conservative because he wanted to keep his dignity intact.
Many feel that Manny didn't give his best, that he was so thrilled with the $80-million-or-more payday that he was content to just escort Floyd to a unanimous win. I disagree. Sure, he was grateful for the payday, but Manny, like every other sports person, wants to leave a legacy after he's stopped performing. He knew that a victory over the highly touted Mayweather would ensure that he would be talked about for years.
After the fight, Manny knew he lost. His feeble attempt at suggesting he won the fight was unconvincing. Manny was defeated fairly and squarely. He lost to the better fighter. It was as simple as that. Boxing is scored, not based on razzle-dazzle. That's for the crowd. You get points for hitting someone and preventing them from hitting you, and in that regard Mayweather was the better man.
Mayweather's own position in the pantheon of greats cannot now be denied. He doesn't create the same awe in boxing circles as the Muhammad Alis and Sugar Ray Leonards of this world. He will never create the same excitement as these other boxers did.
But Mayweather has to go down as one of the greatest ever. He is already accepted as being among the most effective ever. He has now beaten everybody that he has faced. Whatever you may think of his style, the raw facts are that nobody has figured a way to beat him. The best a man can do is defeat the best in his era, and that, Mayweather has done with spectacular success. So let us give him his due.
Floyd Mayweather doesn't have the same aesthetic appeal of some before him, but he doesn't have to. He does rub you the wrong way with his crass way of flaunting his wealth and suggesting he is boxing's gift to the world. He doesn't float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. He just goes into a ring and systematically takes down opponents. They know what he will do, but they seem powerless to do anything about it.
We shouldn't allow ourselves to make style more important than substance. Mayweather is unquestionably one of the sport's best.
- Orville Higgins is a sports journalist and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feedback to columns