It is the primary reason that Pacquiao vs. Marquez 4 is not the headline fight many want to make it out to be. As I wrote here, it is probably the rivalry of the decade, and perhaps our generation in boxing, if not sport altogether.
But the reasons the cupboard is relatively bare in terms of excitement for this fight is that we've seen that, done that. Sure the fights have been exciting, passionate knock-out, drag 'em type exhibitions. And they've been littered with controversy in regards to the final decisions of the judges.
But that's just it, none of the fights have ended without such controversy. And for what purpose? These were not true prize fights. Juan Manuel Marquez has a title belt to his credit at the moment but it was not won at the hands of his "great rival."
And though he is undefeated against Marquez, Manny Pacquiao does not currently hold a title of his own. There is something disturbingly wrong with that picture, that two of boxing's greatest fighters can go against one another three times and not once was a championship the result of such a bout.
If nothing else is the issue (and I believe there to be even greater issues at hand), the lack of meaning in this rivalry makes it one of the more blase rivalries in sport today—at least now. The first couple times, it was OK because of the luster of two such great names squaring off against one another.
Now it's just another fight. Though the names are great, the intrigue has passed its peak. At some point fans want substance, especially if they're paying $70 for a night of watching guys wail on each other.
But, truthfully, that's only half the equation. The other half is an ass staring us right in the face. It's Captain Obvious saying Captain Obvious things. It's the great white elephant in the room.
Everyone and their grandmother knows Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather would draw the sort of excitement boxing hasn't created since the '90s. Sure there have been some great fights, but none have captured the imagination the way a Pacquiao-Mayweather tilt would.
Imagine the awe of seeing the 5’8”, 146 lb. former phenom, Floyd Mayweather, take on the 5’7”, 144 lb. superstar Manny Pacquiao. They are perfect matches for one another based on their body sizes.
And the two are so close in age—Pacquiao is currently 33, while Mayweather is slightly older at 35. It’s as if God could not have given the boxing world a more perfect matchup. The two are equal in height and weight, age (important from an experience and energy level) and the most important factor—they’re both great boxers.
It is a match made in heaven. But it has yet come to earth.
Pacquiao was even willing to admit that he wants to fight Mayweather. So now literally everyone, their grandmother and Manny Pacquiao are on board for a Pacquiao-Mayweather matchup, except apparently Mayweather.
But Wednesday, Mayweather’s adviser, Leonard Ellerbe, told espn.com that Mayweather is planning to get back in the ring in 2013, and wants to fight twice in the next calendar year.
Indications are strong that the match could finally take place. But no one is willing to commit to such a thing just yet. In the meantime, speculation will take place about Mayweather’s next opponent.
But there are more reasons this fight should take place.
The two have interests beyond boxing and each has been criticized for some of their handlings outside of the ring. There is a commonality among these two men, despite the difference in ethnicities and background. The similarities should make them a natural fit.
The motivation for Pacquiao would be obvious: He could finally compete for a championship belt. Mayweather holds two presently—one a junior middleweight world title, the other being a welterweight crown.
The two would likely battle for the junior middleweight crown, should they meet. Pacquiao has already made the concessions stipulated by Mayweather in the past: his being subject to a urine test and 45 percent of the total cash prize.
The only thing left is to finalize details. But that has proven to be much easier said than done in the past.
It’s too bad, frankly. Boxing has reached the lowest of lows in terms of popularity. Pacquiao-Marquez 4 has already done much to show that people simply don’t care for boxing the way they have in the past.
Nothing would be better for the sport than two of its best—Pacquiao with just four career losses—and Mayweather to remain undefeated over the course of his professional career. The two are each ranked second in the world boxing rankings.
The winner of the fight would likely to take secure hold of the top spot. And Pacquiao, who is involved in the political structure of his native Philippines country, could ride off into the sunset having finished his career more perfectly than it began.
He could even potentially go down as one of the greatest fighters of all time, should he win Saturday and then defeat Mayweather. He could retire and have no regrets whatsoever.
And ultimately, that’s the stuff boxing was made of—legendary fighters battling for supremacy. Today, giants are too careful. They are not the bullies they used to be. They’d rather schedule pattycakes in their nonconference schedules (college football specifically) than take on the best and beat the best.
That’s never how boxing was meant to be. It was meant to take the best of the best and have an all-out battle royale. It’s meant to display through a kind of looking glass the best the sport has to offer. With all the title belts won and held by these two men over the course of their careers, what better way for one of them to end than by battling it out for such supremacy?
As the requisite narrative encompasses, only time will tell. Hopefully Father Time is one the side of boxing fans. We all know this matchup is what is needed to save the sport.
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