Whether or not you were satisfied by the long-awaited super fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao has everything to do with expectation. If you wanted a bar room brawl, you were likely disappointed with Mayweather’s decisive victory. The $100 price tag on the fight of century wasn’t admission to a fireworks show, it was admission to a historical event.
It had been my hope that Manny Pacquiao’s quick feet and chaotic attacking style would be enough to put him into the right places at the right times to create some urgency and desperation in the usually unflappable Mayweather. I never believed that Pacquiao would win, just like the betting sites, but I thought that he could at least make it uncomfortable for Mayweather. I was wrong.
What Saturday night revealed is that Mayweather is even a better defensive fighter and on-the-fly adapter than what we thought. Mayweather didn’t simply beat Pacquiaio, he made him look as ordinary as any other opponent. The years of accolades and uniqueness that Pacquiao had built up with extraordinary performances before Saturday vanished once the first bell rang. Mayweather’s movement around the ring, his counter right hands and, surprisingly, his jab washed away the aura of exciting lethality that has long surrounded Pacquaio. In short, Mayeather’s skill tamed Pacquiao’s ferocity.
In the post-fight press conference Pacquiao, Freddie Roach and Bob Arum stated that Pacquiao injured his shoulder in training camp bad enough to consider pulling out of the fight. Although each didn’t entirely attribute the loss to the shoulder, that was clearly that they wanted to do.
Colorful Showtime analyst, Paulie Malignaggi, didn’t sugar coat his thoughts on Pacquiao’s inability to move in-and-out, or the lack of combination punching that fans have been so used to seeing from the Filipino icon. For Malignaggi, it was simple; Pacquaio looked tired because “once you random drug tested him, [Pacquiao] was never going to stand a chance.” Those long suspicious of Pacquaio’s reign of terror from David Diaz through Antonio Margarito might be inclinded to agree with Malignaggi. But they all would be forgetting that Pacquiao accepted random drug testing in his rematch with Tim Bradley and more recently against Chris Algieri. Against both, Pacquiao's speed dazzeled, his power impressed, and his quick feet wreaked havoc on the game plan of his opponent. Even in his now infamous losing effort against Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao seemed to be every bit the dynamic fighter that earned him Fighter of the Decade honors.
Suggesting that Pacquiao’s ineffectiveness on Saturday had anything to do with performance enhancing drugs is dismissive of Mayweather’s skills. Mayweather did what he’s done to all of opponents in the second half of his career; he slowed Pacquiao's pace, made him look flat footed, and stifled his offense. Pacquiao is rightfully considered one of the most effective offensive fighters in a generation, but looked gun-shy against Mayweather. With almost every offensive envoy from Pacquiao, Mayweather found an openning to counter, then he would spin around Pacquiao, often using his check hook, and then set up in front of Pacquaio for brief periods to use his jab and then disappear again. Pacquiao didn’t come forward with flurries because he had nothing to hit and ultimately seemed confused and discouraged by Mayweather's movement.
Bob Arum said that the Nevada State Athletic Commission denied Pacquiao some sort of shot that his camp requested for his injured shoulder before the fight. Is that enough for fans to want to see a rematch between these two all-time greats? Given the decisive victory, few in the press even mentioned the word rematch, so unless medical evidence is produced to show that Pacquaio was truly fighting one-handed, it is unlikely that there will be much of a push in the media for a rematch.
But this fight was never about the upper body. For careful onlookers of the Sweet Science, this fight was always about the feet and given how deftly Mayweather's legs carried him around Pacquiao, I doubt two good hands, or maybe even three, would do Pacquiao much good in a rematch.
With only one fight left on his Showtime contract everyone wants to know, "who's next?" When asked this question in the post-fight press conference Mayweather responded wearily, asking that he be allowed to enjoy his victory. After all, he'd just defeated the boogeyman most had said he'd been ducking for years. Now, he wanted to reveal in his latest accomplishment. He's owed that. There will be plenty of time to play matchmaker in the weeks and months to come. For now, we should be thankful that there's a clear answer to decade-old question of who is the best fighter of this generation: Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
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