If you listened closely during the Saturday night broadcast of Manny Pacquiao's fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, you could hear a troubling sound:
The bubble of anticipation surrounding a potential showdown between Pacquiao with Floyd Mayweather, the one we'd all hoped for with all our boxing-loving bones, sprang a leak at the MGM grand and will continue to lose air with every passing day.
As Marquez took Pacquiao the distance and nearly (perhaps should have) won on decision, it became apparent that the time for a true "superfight" between Pacman and Money Mayweather had passed.
Marquez exposed Pacquiao in Las Vegas, not so much as a bad boxer but as an old boxer.
The Pacquiao aura finally surrendered to the baggage on his resume. He's a 32-year-old warrior with 59 professional fights to his name. 59 fights.
No one survives that many battles unscathed, and the Pacman is no exception.
The Pacquiao who reached a dazzling prime from 2006 to 2006 died long ago, and Saturday night was the epitaph.
Now we have to wonder what's left to anticipate with Pacquiao and Mayweather. The pair still provide a nice contrast in personality, and their past successes leave the door open for some historical jostling in the pre and post-fight babble.
But really, we'll be watching the ghost of a fight that should have happened years ago. A 32-year-old boxer and a 34-year-old boxer going for glory in posterity. It's a fight that will raise eyebrows, it just won't save boxing.
So discard the idea that Pacman v. Money could be this generation's Ali v. Frazier I.
In the "Fight of the Century" both combatants were at their physical peaks, Ali at 29 and Frazier at 27, and the pure force they exhibited that night at Madison Square Garden matched the sparkling splendor of their respective specimens.
We'll never have a chance to see that version of Pacquiao v. Mayweather.
The fight may be fun, the fight may be good, but it'll never be great.
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