The Best Fight You’ll Never See

February 01, 2012 | Thyrl Nelson

It’s the fight we’ve all been waiting for, the latest in a long line of match-ups that could “save” the sport of boxing, and the one fight that everyone is dying to see…almost everyone that is, as it seems that the only two people in the world who have no desire at all to see Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight are Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. And maybe it’s due time that we the fans abandon our anticipation of and interest in this fight and simply accept that it’s likely to never happen.

I, for one, am slowly becoming okay with that notion too.


First in the interest of full disclosure, as I write this, I’m confident that I’ve already seen this fight played out in my mind, and it’s not that interesting. I have no doubt at all, that if they were to fight sometime soon, with their skills as presently constituted, Mayweather would win easily. Styles make fights, and Juan Manuel Marquez, in my opinion provides the most reasonable and most recent barometer. Marquez vs. Pacquiao has been a fantastic fight at three different weights because Pacquiao, typically the aggressor, struggles to deal with Marquez’ counter-punching abilities and therefore finds himself available to be hit often. Mayweather could surely be a better version of Marquez than Marquez, more natural at the higher weight, more evasive even on his worst day than Marquez, and more powerful with his answering punches. As I see it, Pacquiao vs. Mayweather would likely end on a merciful stoppage in Mayweather’s favor sometime around the 6th or 7th round.


If you’re buying that analysis, I’m guessing you’re losing interest in the fight as a result as well. Not just because it projects to be predictable and one-sided, but more so because fans have been clamoring for this fight (in my opinion) simply because the world at large is dying to see Mayweather beaten by someone, and Pacquiao seems to be more likely to do that than anyone else in the picture at present. Many have been waiting a long time to see the bodacious fighter get his comeuppance and whether it’s at the hands of Pacquiao or anyone else, they’d pay handsomely to see it.


Unfortunately I’ve resigned myself to the expectation that it wouldn’t happen anyway, and suddenly the interest is gone. What’s left though is the other ugly side of the coin.


Floyd Mayweather Jr. brings out feelings in me as a fan that I have a hard time meshing with my own sense of humanity. He’s a joy to witness in the ring and the most artistic fighter of my generation by a long shot. That said history won’t likely be kind to Mayweather nor will his post-boxing future (see gambling issues). The fact that I can take solace in that understanding is hard for me to deal with personally…but true nonetheless.


If I can play amateur psychologist for a moment, I’m guessing that all of the hate that fans are prone to feel for Floyd still pales in comparison to the hate that Mayweather has for himself. As the son of a former world champion and with championship lineage coursing through his veins, I’d assume Floyd fights because it’s what he’s good at, and because it’s the way to get attention in the Mayweather family. Like Tiger Woods and Andre Agassi and countless others of that mold, boxing has likely been Floyd’s responsibility much more than his passion for a long time now.


Further, it seems evident throughout the Mayweather experience that in despite his substantial boxing prowess, Floyd’s upbringing is probably much closer to Donavan McNabb than it was to Bernard Hopkins. As Mayweather has seemingly gone to great lengths to attain “street cred”, he morphed into what hip-hop circles used to refer to as a studio gangsta. His impending prison sentence (for beating up girls) seems to be getting treated like a badge of honor from Mayweather of late.


Whether he retires undefeated or not, whether or not he eclipses the record of Rocky Marciano, Mayweather’s career won’t be treated with nearly as much reverence. What exactly is Mayweather’s signature win? His record is an impressive collection of names, but all past their primes, in a series of fights that all came 5-7 years after they should have. With that said; is it any real surprise that the Pacquiao fight is being treated the same as every other relevant match-up of Floyd’s career?


If Floyd were going to fight Manny, historical precedent suggests that he’ll be ready in about 4 years or so. My guess is that Manny will be well into his political career by that time. And the legacy of Mayweather will likely be that he was impossible to hit inside the ring, and even tougher to pin down outside of it.