For quite some time now, it has appeared that the sport of boxing's days are numbered.
Fan-friendly bouts are few and far between. The heavyweight division is a complete waste of time, and promising prospects more often than not disappoint when put to the test.
As the talent continues to fade, it is becoming more and more difficult for promoters to find enticing or even competitive matchups.
This desperate state of affairs has placed a huge burden on boxing superstars to resurrect the sport, most of which has fallen on the shoulders of Pound-for-Pound kings Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
Many fans have cited a potentially lucrative showdown between Pacquiao and Mayweather as an influence in Pacquiao's controversial decision victory over Juan Manuel Marquez this Saturday night.
Both Marquez fans and Pac fans submit that the promise of a big money payday may have played a role in causing them to give Manny more credit than he deserved.
Regardless of the decision, Marquez vs. Pacquiao revealed a few things that may play a part in the inevitable clash between Mayweather and Pacquiao.
There's no doubt about it...Marquez outboxed Manny on Saturday (and truthfully has outboxed him in all three fights).
Even so, Manny still managed to walk away with the decision.
How can this be?
Manny's style is attractive to judges. He is busy, bouncing on his toes, and uses excellent footwork to place himself in normally precarious positions.
Marquez did not match Manny's activity or aggressiveness. Observing this relaxed nature, many viewers claim that Marquez was in control of the fight, taking ownership of the ring by controlling its movement.
Judges, however, often infer that Manny's aggressive style forces this lack of movement. They viewed it as passivity brought on by a respect for Manny's offensive power.
After Saturday's fight, it appears as if Manny would most likely be outboxed by Floyd Mayweather, who is a master of the craft.
But, due to Manny's style, he can outwork his lack of skill and win the favor of the judges.
It's true. The rounds that Marquez won, he won in a dominating fashion.
There were multiple rounds in the middle of the fight in which Manny couldn't find Marquez and allowed JMM to land clean, head-snapping shots on Pacquiao.
As a boxing fan, we watch the fight as a whole. It's easy to reminisce on these dominating rounds and shout "robbery" when Marquez isn't awarded the victory.
Unfortunately, Marquez did not dominate enough rounds throughout the fight to win the fight numerically.
He was completely absent in the twelfth round and held back in the first.
Unfortunately, boxing judges aren't able to take such a holistic approach. While Marquez won his rounds with clarity, he did not win more rounds numerically.
In the numbers game, Pacquiao comes out a victor, even though we were more impressed by the rounds that Marquez won.
If things were based on summarized appearances, Marquez would have won this fight. Boxing, however, awards equal value to the first and the last rounds, even though this contrasts with the last-man-standing attitude that usually accompanies traditional "fighting."
The bottom line is, Manny can win rounds based on looks, regardless of whether his rounds are won emphatically.
In the numbers game, Manny can do enough to impress judges and get the nod in close rounds, and due to his conditioning and work ethic, he can come out ahead even when he gives up a couple of really bad rounds.
Fortunately for Floyd Mayweather, he has both the stamina and the gamesmanship to overcome the advantages that helped Pacquiao win against Marquez.
He is always in top condition and knows exactly what he needs to do to win close rounds before the bell sounds.
Manny was a huge favorite this weekend against Marquez.
A lot of people were predicting an early KO for the Filipino Slugger.
But Pacquiao did not come anywhere close to even putting Marquez on the mat in this fight.
In his last few fights as a heavy favorite, Pacquiao did not perform anywhere close to as impressive as he has when the stakes are closer.
The reason for this could be due to impossibly high standards. But, in my opinion, I think it has more to do with Manny's spirit as a fighter.
Manny has always been lauded as one of the best athletes in the sport. His accuracy, footwork, and strength are second-to-none. His technique, however, has always been a controversial subject.
For this reason, Manny has absolutely dominated fighters who rely on their physical ability. He outpunched a puncher in Miguel Cotto. He was too physical for the bigger Clottey, and he was too skilled for the skill-deprived but resilient Antonio Margarito.
Against great technicians like Marquez and Erik Morales, however, Manny has had to rely on his physical gifts to overcome the gap in skill.
In his first two fights against Marquez, Manny managed to hurt put Marquez on the flour four times. He had no trouble trading with Marquez and even welcomed an all-out war exchange.
In the fights that he won against Morales, Manny had to throw caution to the wind and try to beat Morales on heart and left-handed power---which he managed to do.
Manny entered the ring on Saturday with a promise to display his improved technique. Everyone in Team Pacquiao promised a different, more technical Manny who had caught up to the superior skill of Marquez.
Marquez wasn't supposed to stand a chance.
In the first couple rounds, Manny fought like he was too good to make the fight a brawl like he had done in their previous meetings. He laid back, deciding to try to counter-punch the counterpuncher.
Seeing that he was not clearly ahead, Manny got desperate and looked to be desperately searching for his promised knockout.
His high expectations took him out of the storm-like offensive mindset. He was still the aggressor but he was not PACMAN like.
After Saturday's fight, Pacquiao will be an even larger underdog against Floyd Mayweather than originally anticipated.
Floyd excels at every aspect of the sport that seems to give Pacquiao trouble.
Floyd also dominated Marquez in all 12 rounds, totally outclassing a guy who has fought 36 even rounds with Pacquiao.
I think Manny's poor showing against Marquez will do one of two things for Pac/Floyd:
1. It will make Floyd more likely to step into the ring (at last).
2. It will also allow Pacquiao to fight with nothing to lose. A few years ago, Pacquiao/Mayweather would have been close to 50/50 in the eyes of most sports fans.
Now, you would be silly to pick Pacquiao to win.
I think this will be good for Pacman. No longer will he have to worry about impressing people while beating Mayweather. He now can fight with nothing to lose, as he did in his most brutal fights against Morales and Marquez.
My prediction is that Mayweather vs. Pacquiao will happen soon.
It would be erroneous to assume that Pacquiao's performance against Marquez would be identical to his performance against Mayweather. Even if Pacquiao had lost the decision this Saturday, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao would still be an interesting matchup.
Mayweather will counterpunch Pacquiao all day, it's true, but Pacquiao can definitely hurt Mayweather at the same time if he lands a combo or two like Mosley did.
Pacquiao will not to have fight to impress and make the fight a brawl, like Victor Ortiz tried to in their infamous fourth round (pre-heabutt).
I think it's quite possible that we could see Floyd go down and still come out ahead with a decision.
I don't even think it's that crazy to say Manny has a puncher's chance against Floyd. We've seen bigger upsets this year than a Pacquiao victory would be.
After all, didn't George Foreman knock down Joe Frazier something like 17 times after Frazier beat Ali? Didn't Foreman destroy Ken Norton who always gave Ali trouble?
We all know what happened to Foreman after that, don't we?
Ali knocked George Foreman out.
No, I'm not saying that Pacquiao is Ali.
All I'm saying is—Mayweather, can you please give us 80s babies our own "Rumble in the Jungle"?