The heinous decision to award Timothy Bradley a split decision over Manny Pacquiao in their WBO welterweight title fight is having a ripple effect on boxing.
It has been stated by nearly every conceivable source and journalist with adequate eyesight and acumen that Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) deserved to win via lopsided unanimous decision, and the robbery courtesy of the wildly incompetent judging trio of C.J. Ross, Duane Ford and Jerry Roth have further tainted a sport struggling to regain its once lofty status.
An underlying master plan to allegedly save boxing has taken shape over the past few years in the forms of a proposed fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.—the two most accomplished boxers of their generation. Given that they have consistently jostled for pound-for-pound supremacy over the past several years, a matchup to resolve the debate of who is best seemed like a natural and fortunate inevitability.
If the fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather has seemed like a pipe-dream since negotiations and discussions began, the present reality of this mega-fight ever happening is akin to fantasy given the outright robbery witnessed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on June 9.
The one individual who is not to blame in all of this is Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs). While he was soundly beaten, Bradley fought bravely and admirably on a fractured left foot. Bradley deserves to get some distance from the fight before he reviews the tape and hopefully acknowledges that Pacquiao was the legitimate winner.
But where does this scoring insanity concretely leave Mayweather-Pacquiao?
If history is any indication, dead in the water. Mayweather has, of course, accused Pacquiao of taking PEDs, and drug testing had been a frustrating impasse early in the negotiations. Soon, however, the most pressing issue—and this shouldn’t surprise anyone given Mayweather’s persona—became money.
Mayweather offered Pacquiao $40 million with no share of the pay-per-view revenue, which, oddly, was tantamount to a slap in the face. Pacquiao, as one of the top PPV draws in the sport, justifiably rejected this offer with hopes that the revenue would be shared. Naturally, Pacquiao’s desire ran into the stumbling block of Mayweather’s oversized ego, and it is clear that “Money” believes he is the only truly significant part of the Mayweather-Pacquiao equation.
Now that Pacquiao has another official loss on his ledger, Mayweather will feel that he has even more ammunition to demand all of the PPV revenue and perhaps other outlandish stakes.
The inclination to yell about the above claim being farcical and unjust is accurate but idealistic. Mayweather has never exactly operated within the realm of rationality, and it is clear that he sees and believes whatever suits his rightful—and trust me, I use “rightful” with a heavy dose of irony—economic interests.
The controversy of Pacquiao’s loss to Bradley will not matter to Mayweather. “Money” has had little qualms harping on points like the knockout losses Pacquiao suffered in 1996 and 1999, as well as Pacquiao’s championship run from flyweight to junior middleweight being proof that he’s used PEDs.
Watch Mayweather’s appended infamous interview with Brian Kenny; Mayweather doesn’t know how to listen, cannot answer a basic question logically and continuously distorts facts or spews the same inane point repeatedly. Given his history, Mayweather will feel justified in using Pacquiao’s loss as a means to make their proposed deal more financially one-sided in his favor. That Pacquiao was robbed against Bradley is irrelevant to “Money”.
The most frustrating aspect of the Mayweather-Pacquiao saga is how it keeps Mayweather in the spotlight. By avoiding Pacquiao, Mayweather remains relevant to casual sports fans, as the mere possibility of this mega-fight keeps people at least marginally interested in the boxing beat. Mayweather can fight lesser opponents, make inordinate amounts of money and retain headline status based on the possibility of the Pacquiao fight—all while avoiding his most dangerous and competitive opponent.
Is Mayweather just smarter than the rest of us? Obviously that question doesn’t require a serious answer, but Mayweather’s careful crafting of his marketability does reveal how ultimately unfulfilling a Pacquiao fight is for him.
Yes, Pacquiao-Mayweather would be the most significant promotion in recent boxing history, and it would indeed shatter PPV records and make both fighters astronomical amounts of money. But after the promotion and fight—once the dust settles—what more would need to be said about Mayweather? Regardless of the outcome, Mayweather is an all-time great fighter. Obviously analyzing the fight with Pacquiao and re-ranking both fighters in the boxing pantheon would take place, but what about after that?
Boxing writers would move on to cover other fights, and casual sports fans’ memories of Mayweather would soon vanish like a dream, or maybe a nightmare. The possibility of a Pacquiao fight, in a sense, sustains Mayweather. While he makes money from other sources, only avoiding Pacquiao can satisfy the less obvious need that fuels Mayweather’s existence: the need for constant and unending attention.