Saturday, May 9, 2015

Fight of the Century

A week ago today Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao engaged in fisticuffs for obscene amounts of money. It was little more than a sparring session but someone (the promoter, I suspect) had the audacity to bill it the "Fight of the Century."

Look at these guys: do they look like they just had a Fight of the Century?

"Thanks for the payday, champ..."
You may not know this about me but, I love combat sports. To me, there is no truer competition. Most of my buddies watch hockey and football but not me: I don't have time for that bullshit. Too many rules, too many props.

A ball? A net? Pads and helmets? Fuck off. You want to know who the real winner is? Just drop everything and throw hands. That's what it all boils down to anyway.

Boxing's my first love. As a young teen with anger issues I was looking for a sport that would let me blow off steam. I told my dad I wanted to play football. He asked why. I told him "So I can smash people and put them in the hospital."

What a little psycho I was!

So my dad goes, "Um, I dunno about football but have you ever considered boxing?"

I was skeptical so my dad invited me into the living room and popped an old cassette tape into the VCR (that's how people used to watch movies before Blu Ray, kids). This is what I beheld:

Thus began my love affair with the sweet science.

If you got roped into watching Mayweather and Pacquio play Patty Cake for 12 rounds, do yourself a favor and watch the video above. It's 8 minutes long and considered one of the greatest fights of all time, not by its promoter but by the fans.

Promoters had more sense in the 80's. Instead of coddling their boxers in an attempt to preserve perfect records, they tried very hard to get the best fighters to fight each other. And when you do that, there's no need to hype fights up with grandiose declarations. The fight sells itself!

Case in point: the Hagler-Hearns fight was simply billed as "THE WAR," and holy fuck did it live up to the name.

When a man goes into the ring, he goes to war...

Hagler vs. Hearns is probably my favorite fight. It's 3 rounds of non-stop back-and-forth action that ends the way every good fight should: by knock out.

Since that fateful encounter with boxing's golden age, I've had the privilege of watching some truly spectacular bouts. I witnessed Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward dig deep for 10 brutal rounds; Morales and Barrera throw over a thousand punches (1,468 to be exact) at each other over 12; and the late Diego Corales (RIP) mount an unbelievable come-from-behind (get your mind out of the gutter, dude) knockout against Jose Luis Castillo.


Fast forward to May 2nd, 2015 and the so-called Fight of the Century. If Mayweather and Pacquiao had displayed a tenth of Corales' heart we might've had a fight of the year on our hands.

Hell, if Mayweather had shown a tenth the aggression he himself displayed as a younger man when he knocked Corales he might have made some new fans.

Alas, it wasn't so.

The Mayweather on display May 2nd is one I've become uncomfortably familiar with. Economical, tactical, and precise, he made Pacquiao look like his older old self: one-dimensional, simplistic, and crude. Mayweather's lead and counter rights were on point, as befits an orthodox fighter boxing a leftie, but nothing Money threw seemed to bother Pacquiao a whole lot.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, looked nothing like the guy who tore through Morales (third fight), De La Hoya, and Cotto to name a few. There was no spring in his step, no angles in his approach. He just plodded down the pipe flat-footed, right into Mayweather's impregnable Philly shell defense.

Good luck with that!

For me, May 2nd commemorates boxing's rapid descent toward rock bottom. It was the first boxing match I watched in months (maybe over a year) and it might very well be my last.

Unless of course Mayweather fights GGG next. One can hope.

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