Floyd Mayweather Jr. seals his legacy: Weekend Review
Floyd Mayweather Jr.: I don’t know many people who were surprised that Mayweather schooled Manny Pacquiao in the richest fight in history Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. We’ve seen him do exactly the same thing against so many other capable opponents over the years. This one was significantly different in one respect, though: Pacquiao was the only one who stood in the way of Mayweather being remembered as the best boxer of his era. And now he has overcome that obstacle by easily outpointing his rival, who very simply couldn’t hit him with any consistency because of Mayweather’s otherworldly defensive skills. Mayweather is undisputed king. No more discussion. The fight wasn’t entertaining, which is a shame given the immense hype, but that’s not Mayweather’s fault. He has to be who he is, a master of the hit-and-not-be-hit objective of the sweet science. That’s how he has built a 48-0 record and stands to become one of the few to finish his career undefeated. His many detractors might not like him or his safety-first fighting style but they have to acknowledge his remarkable gifts and the grueling work he has put in to get the most out of them over two dominating decades. He has earned his reputation as the best pure boxer of his time and one of the best ever.
The fans and boxing: We waited five-plus years for the fight, which many of us thought would never happen. Fans paid absurd prices to watch live at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. And those at home forked over as much as $99.95 to watch the fight of the new century on TV. We expected to see something special. Instead, we saw what we’ve seen so many times before: A masterclass performance by Mayweather devoid of any significant drama. Mayweather fans and those who truly appreciate the art of boxing probably were satisfied with what they witnessed on Saturday night but the fight was painfully boring for the majority of those who watched. I truly appreciate Mayweather’s ability; always have. I want more, though. I want a test skill AND will, a fight, not just a clinical demonstration of technique. That’s just my taste. And imagine you’re a casual or non-fan among the millions who paid a hefty fee to watch on TV. You see Pacquiao initiate the action over and over again only to watch Mayweather grab hold of him, blunting his opponent’s attack and any potential action. Experts might appreciate Mayweather’s tactics. Novices couldn’t have understood. All they saw was one guy chasing and the other one holding and running, while landing a few punches here and there. That’s the last thing the sport needed given the size of the audience. It was a good night for Mayweather, not boxing.
Pacquiao’s excuse: I rarely concur with anything Mayweather says but I’m with him on this one: Pacquiao should’ve kept his mouth shut after the fight. He chose to fight with an injured right shoulder. He lost. Why diminish Mayweather’s moment in any way afterward by bringing up the injury? Pacquiao and his handlers should’ve congratulated Mayweather and left it at that. The winner earned it in the ring. And the decision to reveal the injury wasn’t the worst part. There is some validity in promoter Bob Arum’s assertion that athletes often compete with injuries. Mayweather said afterward that both his hands were injured. And they couldn’t have announced beforehand that Pacquiao had injured the shoulder weeks before the fight. If they had, Mayweather would’ve had an additional advantage by adjusting his game plan accordingly. That said, I feel for fans who paid dearly to watch the fight without knowing that Pacquiao was much less than 100 percent. Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, said they considered postponing the fight but went through with it because Pacquiao became comfortable enough with the injury. They must’ve have had serious concerns, though. Why else would they request a numbing injection the night of the fight? And failing to disclose the injury to the Nevada State Athletic Commission was a slimy move. Arum said the Nevada State Athletic Commission knew beforehand about the injury; Commission Chairman Francisco Aguilar said he learned of it a few hours before the fight. Ugly.
Pacquiao fans: I’ve always admired Pacquiao’s fans, who are devoted to their hero so completely that he can do no wrong. The fact is he can. Many of Pacquiao’s fans evidently believe he was robbed by the judges, a notion that left me shaking my head even though I wasn’t surprised to read the comments. It simply isn’t true. Pacquiao (57-6-2, 38 knockouts) was the aggressor but a fighter also must land punches to win rounds; he clearly didn’t. I don’t believe CompuBox statistics are conclusive but they have some value. And, according to CompuBox, Pacquiao landed only 81 punches – an average of 6.8 per round – the entire fight. He landed only 19 percent of the punches he threw. Mayweather wasn’t any more active than Pacquiao but was much more accurate, landing 148 punches (12.3 per round). And he connected on an impressive 48 percent of his power shots (81 of 168), mostly straight rights that were the most telling blows in the fight. The official scores, from some of the best judges in the business, were 118-110, 116-112 and 116-112. I had it 116-112, or eight rounds to four. And I thought that was generous to Pacquiao. The fact is Mayweather frustrated Pacquiao with his defensive skills and did more than enough offensively to win the fight. Maybe it’s just too painful for Pacquiao’s fans to recognize that. I guess that would be understandable.
Pacquiao’s future: What now for Pacquiao? He said an MRI revealed what evidently is a tear in his right shoulder. If he requires surgery — and perhaps even if he doesn’t — he presumably would be out the rest of the year. And, at 36, it could be difficult to bounce back from the operation and a long layoff. And one wonders about motivation. How will be he get up for his next fight given the emotion he poured into the Mayweather promotion, his disappointment over the result and the fact he could never again approach his payday of May 2? He also stood to earn in excess of $100 million. I think Pacquiao will fight again. He demonstrated against Mayweather and his preceding bouts that he can still fight. And he still has great earning power in relation to other elite fighters. If he decides to walk away? The thought is upsetting for those of us who have been along for a remarkable ride. No fighter of this generation – certainly not Mayweather – became as beloved as Pacquiao as a result of both the raw excitement he generated in the ring and his humble, charming demeanor outside it. Who could forget his riveting series against the Mexican trio of Juan Manuel Marquez, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera as well as the single most electric moment of his career, his one-punch knockout of Ricky Hatton. Mayweather was the best of his generation. Pacquiao was the most fun.
Mayweather said at the post-fight press conference that he would give up all five of his sanctioning-body titles in the coming weeks to “give other fighters a chance.” He obviously made the announcement with retirement in mind. He seemed to be sincere when he said he would fight once more, in September, and then call it quits. A victory in that fight would leave him 49-0, equaling the record with which Rocky Marciano retired. Mayweather said he has no plans to fight beyond that simply to surpass the late Hall of Famer. ÔÇª Mayweather said he was handed a check for his guaranteed purse of $100 million after the fight. It would take the average person 1,432 years to make that much money, based on the average salary in the U.S. ÔÇª Mayweather’s history of domestic violence was a hot topic in the mainstream media leading up to the fight. I’ve written in THE RING Magazine that his abhorrent actions and later comments minimizing them are disgusting. A boycott of the fight, which put so much money in his pocket, would’ve been justifiable. And, as it turned out, those who made that decision didn’t miss much anyway. ÔÇª
Gamalier Rodriguez (25-3-3, 17 KOs) wasn’t a stiff test for Vasyl Lomachenko (4-1, 2 KOs) but the WBO featherweight champ from Ukraine continues to impress. Lomachekno outboxed, broke down and then stopped a solid opponent 50 seconds into Round 9 in his second title defense on the Mayweather-Pacquiao card. It’s too early to put him in any pound-for-pound Top 10 list because he has only one significant victory – over Gary Russell Jr. – but that probably will happen in the near future. ÔÇª Leo Santa Cruz (30-0-1, 17) wasn’t able to put away a surprisingly tough Jose Cayetano (17-4, 8 KOs) but won a shutout decision in a 10-round featherweight bout on the Mayweather-Pacquiao card. Next up for Santa Cruz? He and Abner Mares told me separately over the weekend that they want to fight each other in what would be a very important fight for both boxers. Santa Cruz, who has been criticized for soft opposition, would have the opportunity to prove he has elite credentials. And Mares could demonstrate that he’s not damaged goods after his knockout loss to Jhonny Gonzalez.