Back in 2012, as a sophomore journalism student, we were tasked in our Feature Writing class to write a historical feature story. I wrote about the then-pending Pacquiao-Mayweather fight, in the context of big fights and old fighters fighting late in their careers. Now that the fight has happened, many were disappointed about it. Perhaps this is the reason why. Below is the article reproduced unedited.
Why Pacquiao-Mayweather Should Happen ASAP
Manny Pacquiao has been a professional boxer since he was 16. He started his career as a tiny 106-pounder, and has since moved up to be an elite welterweight fighter, while still maintaining an almost flawless 54-3-2 win-loss-draw record.
When he faced Erik Morales in 2006, he lost a close fight, bowing out to Morales via split decision. He hasn’t been defeated since then.
Floyd Mayweather has been a pro since 1996. As an amateur, his career began, like Manny, in the 106-pound division. Also, like Manny, he has also progressed into becoming a force to be reckoned with at 145.
The first loss of his career has not come yet. He holds a perfect 42-0 win-loss record.
Both fighters’ camps claim that the number-one pound-for-pound fighter in the world belongs to their team. One is an eight-division world champion; the other, an undefeated champion of five weight classes.
Simply put, both are two of the best pugilists the boxing world has to offer today.
One problem remains: they still can’t figure out who the better man is. They can’t find a way to fight each other.
This is not the first time a mega-fight such as Pacquiao-Mayweather will be delayed. Boxing’s history is littered with fights involving big-time fighters that never happen at the right time. Sometimes they happen; it’s just that the fighters involved are past their prime, resulting in a lackluster battle.
The most recent example of this is the 2010 fight between Roy Jones, Jr. and Bernard Hopkins. Jones and Hopkins first squared off in 1993 in a middleweight championship fight. Jones walked away from that fight with the belt around his waist, defeating Hopkins via unanimous decision.
Their first fight was controversial, having a number of illegal blows. Also, a tussle involving the referee, ring entourage, and security guards ensued after the sixth round.
A rematch was imminent. However it happened a bit too late: 17 years later, on April 3, 2010.
The fight was hyped up by showing how much each fighter wanted to fight the other. Sadly, with all the promotion the match got, the fight did not live up to expectations.
Although Hopkins got his revenge by winning a unanimous decision, the fight was slow and dragging. The hype remained just as hype. There was no follow-up.
Evander Holyfield, a former heavyweight champion, was at his career’s best in the mid to late 1990s. Perhaps his most memorable moment in the ring was with Mike Tyson in 1997, when Tyson infamously bit Holyfield in the ear.
Later in his career in 2007, at age 45, he challenged Sultan Ibragimov for the WBO heavyweight championship. Ibragimov defeated Holyfield via unanimous decision.
Holyfield’s age showed in the fight, as it became a pretty boring match. Exchanges lasted only two to three punches long. Neither of the fighters actually dominated his opponent.
One would expect something more from a former heavyweight champion, even against a much younger fighter. In this fight, Holyfield disappointed.
“Sugar” Shane Mosley, who holds a 46-7-1 win-loss-draw record with one no-contest, also became a champion in three weight classes. Some of his notable feuds since turning pro in 1993 came against Oscar de la Hoya and Vernon Forrest. He has also defeated Antonio Margarito in 2009 for the WBA Super Welterweight title at age 38.
After that Margarito bout, he faced Floyd Mayweather Jr., Sergio Mora, and his most recent opponent Manny Pacquiao.
Mosley’s performance in his last three fights were underwhelming at best, losing unanimous decisions to Mayweather and Pacquiao, while fighting to a draw against Mora.
Not even the great Muhammad Ali was spared from this trend. Despite amassing a 56-5 win-loss record, three of those five defeats came in his final four fights.
His last two fights before retiring for good were losses. One of those was against Larry Holmes in 1980, 20 years after his first professional bout. This was the only time Ali was defeated by technical knockout (TKO), as his corner stopped the fight in after the 10th round.
Though these battles involve fighters from whom much are expected, not all delayed fights turn out terribly. Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns squared off first in 1981 for the welterweight championship. Leonard won that battle.
Eight years later in 1989, the two fighters had their rematch, a title fight now at 168 pounds. Promoters billed this contest as “The War”.
Both fighters provided a 12-round spectacle, with the final two rounds going back and forth. Hearns almost pulled of a win with his performance, but Leonard stole the 12th round, dominating Hearns, scoring a knockdown in the process.
The fight happened late in their careers, but they still delivered, putting on a show that made it enjoyable for viewers to watch. However, although the battle happened as their careers were winding down, they were still relatively young then, as both were in their early 30s.
The Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather bout, if it ever happens, may quite possibly be the biggest – and richest – fight in the history of boxing. As Francis Ochoa, assistant sports editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer said, it’s rare for the top-two pound-for-pound fighters to be able to face each other.
“Usually, for example, number one is a heavyweight, number two is a flyweight. In this case their both welterweights. [Pacquiao and Mayweather] belong to the same weight class and the same age category. How does that happen in history and you never get to see them fight at all? It’s a tragedy,” Ochoa said.
Which is why the fight must happen now. History suggests it. Older fighters in fights disappoint more often than not. These two boxers must square off sooner rather than later. It will be better for Manny, it will be better for Floyd, it will be better for everyone eagerly awaiting the fight.
In the end, everyone’s a winner, because even the loser of the fight will get a huge paycheck afterwards. #