As has become the custom after every Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fight over the last two years, the monotonous chant for a fight between the sports two biggest stars will soon begin. Message boards and forums will become clogged with “Flomos” and “Pactards” waging keyboard wars against each other’s sexuality and loyalty to Mayweather or Pacquiao. ESPN will trot out resident blowhard, Skip Bayless to tell us why Floyd Mayweather will never accept the fight, and we will see an uptick in their coverage of boxing until it is bumped in favor of full scale coverage of Tim Tebow’s first game with a completion percentage of 50 percent or more.
Will it all be for naught? Are we just whistling Dixie in a windstorm while Pacquiao and Mayweather go about business as usual (not fighting each other)? Floyd Mayweather has announced that he will likely return to the ring on May 5 and he is looking to make the fight everyone wants to see. Prior to Mayweather’s announcement Pacquiao was also circling a May 2012 fight date. To the untrained eye it would appear Mayweather and Pacquiao will finally cross paths in the ring. So why is it so hard to look past the roadblocks that can keep the biggest fight of this young century from happening?
It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to see that Manny Pacquiao has trouble with crafty counter-punchers. Juan Manuel Marquez, who just lost another close and debatable decision to Manny Pacquiao, has been able to nullify Pacquiao’s flash and dash offense. Over the course of the 36 rounds of war waged between Pacquiao and Marquez, a mere seven points separates the two gladiators on the scorecards. It has been more than three years since we’ve seen Pacquiao lose more than two rounds against an opponent, and the last such incident was against none other than Marquez.
Manny Pacquiao has always been stood fast on the belief that he doesn’t need Mayweather to complete his legacy, while Floyd Mayweather has expressed the same satisfaction with his own legacy, ad nauseum. Both men are wrong. Manny Pacquiao needs Floyd Mayweather just as much as Floyd Mayweather needs Manny Pacquiao. The loud chorus of jeers and boos from last night’s Las Vegas crowd should give Pacquiao enough incentive to demand of his handlers that a fight with Mayweather be made so he can prove he isn’t an over-hyped product of creative matchmaking against defensively-challenged brawlers. On the other side of the coin, Mayweather may not ever satisfy his critics, but he will be able to cross the biggest item off the list of public demands for the respect he demands that is currently being held hostage.
The time to make Mayweather-Pacquiao is now, just don’t tell that to an increasingly cantankerous Bob Arum, who told reporters at last night’s post-fight press conference that he wants to stage a fourth fight between Pacquiao and Marquez. I applaud Team Pacquiao’s willingness to put an end to the debate and settle the score decisively, but if you’re going to play Russian Roulette with 4 rounds in the gun, why not do it where the money will be no less than double what could be made for a fourth fight between Pacquiao and Marquez? We’ve already seen Pacquiao turn in a dominant, yet pedestrian performance against a mobile and defensive Shane Mosley, and Marquez reaffirmed the belief that a counter-puncher can have success against Pacquiao by taking a half step back and circling away to counter an off balance and squared up Pacquiao.
Manny Pacquiao has made hundreds of millions of dollars for Bob Arum, and he’ll keep on making more whilst Arum keeps pitting him against hand-picked opposition from his stable of fighters. Will Bob Arum see the increasing risk in the risk-reward ratio of continuing with the uninspired theme of in-house cash grabs, and finally stop with the smoke and mirrors and sit down and make the richest fight in history? Or will he milk his prize cow for every last drop of milk before he sends him off to pasture?
The blueprint to beat Pacquiao has been written, however. Some of us knew it was there all along, while others needed to see for themselves. Juan Manuel Marquez may get his fourth shot at Pacquiao next spring, or perhaps Timothy Bradley finds the golden ticket in his Wonka Bar and gets the call to sign his name on the dotted line. Either way, Arum is tempting fate by extending the delay on a Mayweather-Pacquiao bout.
Despite the possibility to make a mountain of money (and as Floyd Mayweather often says, “If it makes dollars, it makes sense.”), is it foolish to waste our time campaigning for the fight? In the opinion of your humble narrator, we are facing yet another exercise in futility. If Bob Arum learned anything from leaving a potential clash between featherweights Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa on the stove too long, he’ll go to Richard Schaefer and Al Haymon, hat in hand, and make the fantasy of a Mayweather-Pacquiao mega-fight a reality before the varsity quarterback shuffles in and runs off with his prom date.
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