If Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao took place tomorrow, it would be the greatest boxing spectacle of the 21st century, but it's not, and at this present moment in time, that's the best thing that could've happened to the art of pugilism.
By now most of boxing's aficionados are privy to the ongoing saga, dramatics and Oscar nominated performances which have emanated from the camps of both "Money May" and the "Pac-Man" regarding the veritable superfight of the century.
For the casual fans and those with only a fleeting interest in the sport, here's a concise take on the matter:
The fight has been in the works for nigh on three years, yet every time there's been the slightest glimmer of hope apropos a potential clash, it suddenly dissipates into thin air, coupled with either camp blaming the other for negotiations falling through.
Though, Mayweather and Pacquiao have done their fair share of supposedly misleading the public into believing the fight will happen anytime soon, the major culprit however, is one Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, Inc. and the biggest stumbling block to the bout transpiring.
For more on the Arum situation, go here.
That said, whatever the aforementioned trios game plan is, genuine or not, for the meantime and in between time, long may it continue.
Before getting to the crux of the matter, here's a brief chronicle leading up to the "why" of the subject matter:
Albeit some of us weren't around at the time, nevertheless savants of the sport must remember what the art of fisticuffs constituted, especially in the heavyweight division.
"The Boston Strong Boy," John L. Sullivan, Jack "Galveston Giant" Johnson, Jack "The Manassa Mauler" Dempsey and middleweight Stanley "Michigan Assassin" Ketchel, to name a few, all had something distinctive and unique which they brought to the world of boxing, be it inside the ring or outside—ferocity, skill set and/or notoriety, and sometimes everything but the kitchen sink.
Later arrived the flamboyant and mercurial G.O.A.T Sugar Ray Robinson and his contemporary the tough, rugged and indefatigable Jake "The Raging Bull" LaMotta, Rocky "The Brockton Blockbuster" Marciano and Joe "The Brown Bomber" Louis.
Every time boxing has fallen by the wayside, there's that one special fighter who comes by every once in an era to dig it out of the hole which has for decades dug for itself.
Cassius "The Louisville Lip" Clay (Muhammad Ali) injected some much-need life into the sport with his arrogance, eloquence and fistic genius, and alongside the late Joe Frazier and George Foreman, he contributed to three of boxing's greatest events to date—the original "Fight of the Century," "The Rumble in the Jungle" and "The Thrilla in Manila."
Those were the days when boxing reigned supreme over almost the entire sporting stratosphere.
Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto "Mano de Piedra" Duran, Thomas "The Hitman" Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler also played their part in boxing's resurgence when it required an extra push.
In spite of this, things took a turn for the worse, when promoters like Don King and Bob Arum began holding sway over the sport, alongside such running mates as WBC President José Suleimán.
Though, the worst transgression committed to boxing was the introduction of the alphabet titles (five major and seven minor belts). The present number of titles is 17.
Still, there was one more ace in the pack, a more apt phrase would be the Royal Flush, which may turn out to be boxing's penultimate hand vis-à-vis the dire state the game finds itself at present.
Sometime in 1985, people got wind of this caged tiger wanting out—he'd been wrecking shop—victim after victim fell at his feet.
Then finally, on Nov. 22, 1986, he was unleashed on to the unsuspecting public, his ferocity knew no bounds—Michael Gerrard Tyson had arrived.
At just 20 years of age, Tyson captured the WBC heavyweight title and was culpable for the late Trevor Berbick auditioning for Dancing with the Stars until he literally saw stars. He had too much smarts for the likes of James "Bone Crusher" Smith and Tony "TNT" Tucker, and as a consequence, by the age of 21 he was the undisputed champion of his division.
He then carried out a 91-second demolition job on the previously unbeaten Michael Spinks, effectively sending him into retirement.
In spite of his meteoric rise, four years later his downfall began at the hands James "Buster" Douglas, and by the age of 23, Tyson was more or less a shadow of his former self.
Though, what followed later on in his career was an aberration of the once former "Baddest Man on the Planet."
Tyson epitomized boxing to its fullest—he was brash, rash and unpredictable.
He was also notorious as well as having a penchant for violence in and sometimes out of the four-squared ring. Long story short—a shooting star he may have been, but while his light shone on the boxing world, he was the most polarizing sports figure of his on any other aeon.
There was the ear-chomping of Evander Holyfield, the Lennox Lewis press conference and the poetic moment where he expresses his urge to devour Lewis' children, whilst comparing himself to Sonny Liston and Dempsey—now that was Tyson—poetry in motion, warts and all.
We loved to hate him and vice versa, however, for all his faults, we'd welcome a prime Mike Tyson back today with a plethora of open arms.
Whenever boxing was mentioned, the heavyweight division always got first refusal—the assemblage was the alpha and omega over every other division, though not anymore, the welterweights have that privilege now.
So now we're left with the Klitschko brothers, who realistically can't be held accountable for the heavyweight division's current state—they can only fight what's put in front of them, and persona-wise, well you can take a horse to the well, but you can force it to drink. They are who they are, they get the job done and go home and milk the cows.
Back to the "why" of this article?
Even though it's not fair on the fans with regards to the superfight debacle, still, look at it from the following perspective—remember when you took that first mind-altering hit (that's for those who've dabbled in that kind of stuff), you thought it was the best feeling in the whole wide world?
You thought to yourself Wow! The next time around it's going to be even better, but that next time never came, that first hit was as good as got and as good as it'll ever be, and that's the bottom line.
That same mind-inducing euphoria applies to the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, once we get that adrenaline buzz of watching two of boxing's best throw leather out of our system, it's over; gone. Whilst you could try something a bit stronger with the recreational stuff, you can't in this case.
With that in mind, who will then carry the torch once Money and Pac-Man have hung 'em up? Andre Ward, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Saul Alvarez, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Miguel Vázquez, Victor Ortiz, Amir Khan and the like?
It's highly doubtful that the aforementioned have the overall capabilities (innate and otherwise) to take boxing to the next phase, still, we can hope.
So ask yourselves this, why has the bout been heralded as the fight of the century? There's almost 90 years to go before the turn of the century, so are we trying to tell ourselves that in boxing terms, this is it?
Well if that's the case, why don't we let it season for a while, and when it's good and ready, we'll all feast on boxing's tastiest and last superlative supper, and the aftermath can be dealt with at a later date.
A reworked line from the film Man on Fire:
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao's art is the sweet science. In time, they'll eventually paint their masterpiece.
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