What good is a super-villain without a superhero?
It’s difficult to be the villain where there isn’t a believable hero to save the city.
Just imagine Gotham City run by the Joker because Batman has been run out of town. In terms of entertainment value, there’s not a whole lot to cheer for. The thrill is gone and the most notorious inmate is running the asylum.
Nobody wants to watch that show, much less pay for it, because it was never really about the Joker to begin with.
In case you’re not following along, Batman was Manny Pacquiao and the Joker was none other than Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The Joker manufactured his narrative because being a normal man in the sport of boxing was never going to work. Without superhuman knockout power, Mayweather resorted to using his smarts and athletic ability to defeat his opponents. But that’s not what people want to see. So Mayweather resorted to heinous tactics outside of the ring to create a villain that everybody wants to see lose.
Meanwhile, Manny Pacquiao smiled his way through a violent uprising that laid waste to a number of former champions. The Pacman was devastating and he convinced the people that every victory was for them. Mayweather’s wins were only about him. So the smiling hero with a heart of gold and superhuman ability had to eventually take down the city of Boxing’s biggest enemy.
Or, at least that’s how these things are written.
When the showdown of all showdowns took place on May 3, the expectation was that there would be an epic clash for the ages. The hero would put up a valiant effort and hopefully thwart the villain from his heinous, money-throwing ways. Even if the hero lost, viewers would feel like there could be a next time because, as we all know, the bad guys never win in the end.
But this time, the bad guy won. And he won handily.
To make matters worse, it was far from epic as Mayweather dispatched his “biggest threat” in a manner that was devoid of entertainment. We waited all these years to see a monumental battle that could forever change history and ended up with something we won’t remember in six months. Well, except the fact that Batman and the Joker walked away with a ton of money after convincing us to watch such a horrible episode.
And now the Joker plans on retiring on top by taking out Commissioner James Gordon (Andre Berto) in the season finale just because he can.
You can’t expect people to want to see the villain on top.
But, you see, in the scripted world of television, there’s always a way for the good guy to find a way to win. In the very real world of boxing, you can’t create alternate universes where a mortal like Commissioner Gordon can beat the Joker in a fistfight. And because the viewing audience was already ruined by your megafight dud, you can’t expect them to pay to see a mismatch.
It’s not like Mayweather and Berto can’t engage in a marvelous firefight. But given the lack of hero stature that Berto exudes, it’s just not something people are willing to pay to witness. Even if it is great, nobody cares because the narrative was never strong enough to begin with.
It’s like the NBA Finals being between the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Warriors (Mayweather) rolled over a stacked Western Conference and have one series left before they win the championship. And that series is against the lowly Sixers (Berto) who have done absolutely nothing to make it there. As a matter of fact, we all find out the Warriors passed over the Cavs, Hawks, Heat and Bulls to hand-select the Sixers. Now what do you think?
Basketball fans who enjoy the spirit of competition would not be pleased with that matchup. That doesn’t mean the Sixers wouldn’t make things exciting, it’s just that nobody expects them to. It’s hard to convince the buying public that a team with a putrid record can realistically take out the best team in basketball.
But nobody expected Buster Douglass to beat Mike Tyson either.
Upsets happen. And the beauty of boxing is that one punch can change everything. However, in order to maintain the villain disguise that boxing fans have paid to see lose, a narrative for a viable opponent must be built.
Of course, there’s a lingering idea that Mayweather could be very un-Mayweather-like against Berto in an effort to try to make things exciting for the fans in his last hurrah. Maybe the dazzling defensive wizard decides to engage in a firefight that people will remember and regret missing.
Not likely, but maybe.
Maybe Commissioner Gordon finds the Joker falling asleep at the wheel and is able to take advantage of the villain with his guard down. Berto has trained his entire life for this moment. Mayweather has never trained for singular moments because, to him, they are all the same.
But maybe, on this night, the boxing gods deliver a story better than fiction. Perhaps the tennis gods storyboarding the shocking loss Serena Williams was handed by unranked Roberta Vinci inspires these storywriters to give us our own version of justice.
That’s how it would happen in the movies anyway, because nobody wants to see the bad guy win.