Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao have been on a collision course since Pacquiao moved up to the welterweight division to challenge Oscar De La Hoya in 2008. Unfortunately, the pace of the inevitable encounter, often dubbed the Fight of the Century, has been more continental drift theory than fast tracked super fight — more so than any of us could have possibly imagined.
It’s been two and a half years since Pacquiao used speed, precision and ferocious power to TKO De La Hoya after 8 one-sided rounds. It was a fight many people pegged a mismatch in favor of the larger De La Hoya, but Pacquiao proved his mettle and had many fight fans wondering after the fight what he’d look like against Mayweather.
And here we are still,wondering and hoping the fight will occur.
A Quick Recap
Mayweather had “retired” in 2008 after besting the previously undefeated Ricky Hatton but nobody really believed he would stay away. How could he? At 30 years old and in the prime of his career, finally earning the type of money he believed he always should have been earning, Mayweather was sure to simply enjoy some rest before coming back to boxing to take on all challengers.
Meanwhile, Manny seemed to be doing his part to make this event the biggest of the new millennium. Beating up Oscar De La Hoya in a more convincing fashion than Mayweather did was step one. Step two would be doing the same to Ricky Hatton. Pacquiao obliterated Hatton in only two rounds. It had taken Mayweather (over a year earlier) ten rounds to do the same.
Yep, the fight was sure to be made. Mayweather announced his return to the ring the same day Pacquiao defeated Hatton. He was to come back to face Juan Manuel Marquez, a nemesis of Pacquiao, and pave the way (with the eventual win) to the biggest PPV in the history of the sport.
The negotiations began. There was just too much interest in it to fail – too much money for the fight not to take place, but it didn’t. The reason?
Because neither fighter is willing to take the test.
Floyd Mayweather Needs to Take the Test
Mayweather is undefeated and has fought some of the best fighters of his era. Those that disparage his record rely on revisionist history and downright delusion to allege he avoids fighters that could actually challenge him. He was the underdog when he defeated the late, great Diego Corrales in 2001, and Jose Luis Castillo took Mayweather to deep, deep water in their two clashes a year later.
Unlike someone trying to avoid completion, he moved up from his optimal weight of 130 to chase bigger named opponents — even going so far as to fight De La Hoya at 154 in 2007. He fought Zab Judah, Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley and Arturo Gatti – all probable hall-of-famers.
But Mayweather is as delusional as his detractors if he believes he’s even in the conversation as the greatest fighter ever. Why? Because he hasn’t tested himself against the other best fighter of his era in a fight that’s too lucrative to have had any reason to pass up – Manny Pacquiao.
The Mayweather camp wants to make it all about the abuse of PED’s. They say it’s hard to believe a guy of Pacquiao’s diminutive stature could go that far up in weight while retaining the same speed he had earlier in his career as well as adding the kind of power he appears to possess now. It’s a fair point. They want to institute PED testing (and have for every Mayweather fight since his return in 2009) that’s consistent with the US Anti-Doping Committee’s rigorous testing standards.
But at some point, it has to be about something else – grander even than cleaning up the sport. It has to be about his legacy. As many great fighters as Mayweather has fought, he’s been at the very least careful in his selection. Not fighting Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito at welterweight when they were the top contenders isn’t something an all-time great does. For example, Ray Robinson (arguably the greatest fighter ever) fought the much bigger, hard-nosed Jake Lamotta not just once but six times.
If he really wanted to get one over on Pacquiao, he’d make it clear (as he has alrleady) that Team Pacquiao refuses to take the random USADA drug tests, but that he’s going to kick his butt anyway. And then go do it.
Manny Pacquiao Needs to Take the Test
Manny Pacquiao fought some of the most brilliant wars against the top fighters of his time. His epic battles with Eric Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez and Marco Antonio Barrera made him the hardcore fight fan’s biggest attraction.
His move up in weight has taken him to even greater heights. He’s arguably the most popular fighter in the world today. He’s got legions of fans and sponsors are lined up at his door to get him to pitch products for them. Whether it’s shoes, phones, laptops –Manny Pacquiao is an icon that has transcended the sport of boxing.
So why not take the drug tests?
Maybe Manny isn’t a Major League Baseball fan.
Much of my youth was spent watching America’s pastime. To this day, only baseball can rival my affection for the sport of boxing. Some of my favorite memories were watching the big homerun hitters of my youth. The homerun chase of 1998, where both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled it out to see who would end up setting the new mark for homeruns in a single season, was supposed to be one of those cherished moments you were glad you were alive to see. And seeing Barry Bonds break Hank Aaron’s career homeruns record was supposed to be the icing on the cake.
But it all fell apart.
The PEDs scandal rocked baseball like no other sport. We still don’t know who did what, which records are legit (though we have a pretty good idea which aren’t) and why MLB did not do everything in their power at the time to keep the purity of the game intact. Guys like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemons went from all-time greats to all-time goats.
So now as I look back on my youth, I cannot cherish the memories from that time period. Nothing was real. I didn’t see truly great players. Did I? Perhaps I only saw really good players using PEDs to enhance their games beyond their natural ability. I’ll never really know for sure.
I don’t want that to happen in boxing. Manny Pacquiao looks like an all-time great to me, but we live in a day and age when we cannot trust our own eyes. It’s a time that has made everyone rightfully skeptical, so those that want us to believe what we see need to do a bit more to prove they’re legit. It’s just the way it is.
Growing up, my father could brag to me about Sugar Ray Robinson, and my grandpa could talk about Joe Louis. I want to be the dad that one day tells my son about the greatness of Manny Pacquiao.
But it can only happen if he takes the test.
Movement on Both Sides
More than ever before, both sides seem to be indicating the fight will take place soon. In the build-up for his next fight, a September 17th encounter with the hard-hitting Victor Ortiz, Mayweather has been so bold as to tell fans that Pacquiao is “next”. Moreover, just this week Bob Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter, has indicated Manny would be willing to take random drug tests to make the fight happen next year. First, Pacquiao must defeat Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12th.
In May of 2012, boxing fans would have waited over 3 years for the Fight of the Century. The PPV would be sold all over the world and probably break the record for the highest grossing fight in history. People would pack theaters for a chance to see it, hearkening back to the glory days of the sport. The venue would sell out in minutes and the live gate would make as much money as the promoters dared to ask for. It actually would be the Fight of the Century.
Let’s hope it happens.
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