Tuesday, December 06, 2022  |


Pacquiao-Mayweather: The fans are the ones who will suffer


The 1994 labor dispute that wiped out part of the baseball season and the World Series left even ardent fans thoroughly disgusted, some even vowing to divorce themselves from the national pastime. It took years and a home run battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa to heal the wounds.

The Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. debacle might be boxing’s version of that horrible season.

Right now, devoted fans worldwide are depressed over the news that the March 13 showdown – between the Nos. 1 and 2 fighters in the world – apparently is off in spite of ongoing negotiations and two days of mediation.

The sides simply couldn't agree on a cut-off date for blood testing. So that appears to be that.

The fans have and will continue to blame the side they feel is at fault. The Pacquiao supporters lambast Mayweather for making an unreasonable demand they feel places the Filipino’s character in question. The Mayweather supporters will always ask whether taking a random blood test is really such a big deal.

Whichever side you’re on, everyone eager to witness what would’ve been an enormous event has one thing in common: Profound disappointment.

The fighters are and will remain wealthy. Pacquiao will fight someone like Yuri Foreman and collect a payday mere mortals can only dream of, even if it pales next to what he would’ve made against Mayweather. The same with Mayweather even though he’ll probably fight someone who has no chance of beating him.

They won’t have the chance to face their pound-for-pound rival – which would’ve settled the debate over who truly is the best fighter in the world – but they’ll go on living their ridiculously comfortable lives.

The rest of us, those who passionately love the sport and live modestly, will get nothing except one-sided fights that might be only mildly entertaining and prove little.

Pacquiao said he’s standing on principle, which is understandable. The Mayweather camp has recklessly suggested that he has taken performance-enhancing drugs and then demanded testing that normally isn’t used in boxing. Mayweather also has his pride. He obviously believes his demands are reasonable or he wouldn’t refuse to budge.

So Pacquiao stands on principle, Mayweather maintains his pride and the sport and its fans suffer. Somehow that doesn’t seem fair.

The reality is that boxing fans don’t have too much to get excited about. Only so many matches that are truly compelling can be made. And this one was beyond compelling, so rare is it that the two best fighters in the world actually throw down in the ring.

That’s why experts were predicting revenue and pay-per-view numbers that would’ve shattered all records. This fight was supposed to be a devastating blow in the sport’s ongoing battle against Mixed Martial Arts, a bruising battle if there ever was one.

Pacquiao-Mayweather was our World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Championship, Stanley Cup and all the NCAA titles all rolled into one. It was Ali-Frazier, Leonard-Hearns, De La Hoya-Trinidad. It was Halley’s Comet – catch it while you can because it ain’t comin’ around again soon.

Sadly, we missed it. It’s gone, at least for now. Yes, there’s a chance the fight can be rescheduled for later this year or beyond but I’m no longer optimistic. If they couldn’t come to terms now, why are we to believe they could come to terms later?

Again, I feel bad for the fans. They didn’t have anything to gain but a truly epic matchup, one amazing night that so rarely comes their way. And now it’s gone because two prideful fighters refuse to find enough common ground to make a deal.

I wrote earlier that fans right now are depressed, which undoubtedly is the case. They also are angry, as emails pouring into this and other sites make clear. I wouldn’t blame them if they walked away from the sport, at least for a while.

I suspect they will get over it, as the baseball fans ultimately did, but I believe a bad taste will linger. The sport has lost some of its appeal.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]