Friday 30th September 2016,
Balltribe

Floyd Mayweather is Who We Thought He Was

maymannyIt is not unusual for me to watch a big-time boxing match, enjoy it thoroughly, and not realize until I check onto social media after the fact that the fight in question was, in fact, “a dud.” It happened when Saul Alvarez fought Erislandy Lara. I had Lara winning a close fight, but concede his lack of activity hurt him in too many rounds. But I didn’t find the fight “boring.” The catch-and-mouse game he played with Canelo throughout the fight was interesting to me. Sure, if Alvarez has managed to cut off the ring a bit better and force more exchanges, it would have been more exciting.

But different styles create different kind of fights. I wouldn’t go watch a jazz combo and complain that nobody there was shredding on guitar like Angus Young.

It happened when Guillermo Rigondeaux undressed Nonito Donaire. To me, it was one of the amazing boxing performances I’ve been privileged to see—a guy with only a dozen pro fights completely neutralizing one of the most dangerous offensive fighters in the sport, an opponent who was universally ranked in the pound-for-pound top five. Again, I needed the peanut gallery of the Internet to educate me that Rigo “was boring.”

In the case of Floyd Mayweather’s unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao Saturday night, though, I was able to anticipate a lot of the reaction. The passion of Pacquiao’s fan base is so strong I knew that many of them would insist he had won any fight that he managed to finish. The vitriol against Mayweather is so strong that I knew he would once again be accused of “running,” even though he never left the area of combat and threw more punches than Pacquiao.

Given the unusual number of casual and non-fans watching the bout, I also knew that the fight would be viewed as surprisingly boring. These are the sort of fans whose sense of what a boxing match is supposed to be is informed more by Rocky movies than actual competitions.

To me, the long-awaited showdown between Mayweather and Pacquiao looked pretty much exactly like what it could have been expected to look like. I had hoped Pacquiao would be able to use angles a bit better to force more action. I had wondered if Mayweather’s 38-year-old legs might tire in the late rounds and force him to stand and trade with greater desperation.

But realistically, I knew the most likely outcome would be another exhibition of defensive brilliance and ring generalship. That’s what Mayweather has been doing for nearly two decades now.

I like a good old-fashioned slobberknocker as much as any fight fan. Last month I was in press row for Lucas Matthysse vs. Ruslan Provodnikov. That was a fight I actually encouraged casual and non-fans to attend, and my wife actually brought up a group of fans who had never been to a fight before. They were all entranced by the spectacle.

But the point of a boxing match is not for the guys to prove how brave they are or how willing they are to absorb punishment. Sometimes courage and gluttony can be decisive factors in a sport as brutal as boxing. But they aren’t the point.

The point is to win. It’s too hit the other guy and keep him from hitting you. Anybody who thinks that avoiding punches inside of an enclosed, 20′ by 20′, roped-off area is easy, should give it a try. What Floyd Mayweather has managed to do in 48 professional fights is remarkable.

I can understand fans who don’t feel the same kind of emotional connection to Mayweather that they felt to fighters like Ali, Hagler or Leonard. I don’t either. But to deny the man’s greatness in the ring is sheer ignorance.

It is not unusual for me to watch a big-time boxing match, enjoy it thoroughly, and not realize until I check onto social media after the fact that the fight in question was, in fact, “a dud.” It happened when Saul Alvarez fought Erislandy Lara. I had Lara winning a close fight, but concede his lack of activity hurt him in too many rounds. But I didn’t find the fight “boring.” The catch-and-mouse game he played with Canelo throughout the fight was interesting to me. Sure, if Alvarez has managed to cut off the ring a bit better and force more exchanges, it would have been more exciting.

But different styles create different kind of fights. I wouldn’t go watch a jazz combo and complain that nobody there was shredding on guitar like Angus Young.

It happened when Guillermo Rigondeaux undressed Nonito Donaire. To me, it was one of the amazing boxing performances I’ve been privileged to see—a guy with only a dozen pro fights completely neutralizing one of the most dangerous offensive fighters in the sport, an opponent who was universally ranked in the pound-for-pound top five. Again, I needed the peanut gallery of the Internet to educate me that Rigo “was boring.”

In the case of Floyd Mayweather’s unanimous decision over Manny Pacquiao Saturday night, though, I was able to anticipate a lot of the reaction. The passion of Pacquiao’s fan base is so strong I knew that many of them would insist he had won any fight that he managed to finish. The vitriol against Mayweather is so strong that I knew he would once again be accused of “running,” even though he never left the area of combat and threw more punches than Pacquiao.

Given the unusual number of casual and non-fans watching the bout, I also knew that the fight would be viewed as surprisingly boring. These are the sort of fans whose sense of what a boxing match is supposed to be is informed more by Rocky movies than actual competitions.

To me, the long-awaited showdown between Mayweather and Pacquiao looked pretty much exactly like what it could have been expected to look like. I had hoped Pacquiao would be able to use angles a bit better to force more action. I had wondered if Mayweather’s 38-year-old legs might tire in the late rounds and force him to stand and trade with greater desperation.

But realistically, I knew the most likely outcome would be another exhibition of defensive brilliance and ring generalship. That’s what Mayweather has been doing for nearly two decades now.

I like a good old-fashioned slobberknocker as much as any fight fan. Last month I was in press row for Lucas Matthysse vs. Ruslan Provodnikov. That was a fight I actually encouraged casual and non-fans to attend, and my wife actually brought up a group of fans who had never been to a fight before. They were all entranced by the spectacle.

But the point of a boxing match is not for the guys to prove how brave they are or how willing they are to absorb punishment. Sometimes courage and gluttony can be decisive factors in a sport as brutal as boxing. But they aren’t the point.

The point is to win. It’s too hit the other guy and keep him from hitting you. Anybody who thinks that avoiding punches inside of an enclosed, 20′ by 20′, roped-off area should give it a try. What Floyd Mayweather has managed to do in 48 professional fights is remarkable.

I can understand fans who don’t feel the same kind of emotional connection to Mayweather that they felt to fighters like Ali, Hagler or Leonard. I don’t either. But to deny the man’s greatness in the ring is sheer ignorance.

Follow Briggs Seekins on Twitter at #Briggsfighttalk and check out his blog, Pioneers of Boxing , to read about the early, bare-knuckle days of the sport.

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  • Rok Ajarid

    to the writer of this article?.. have u ever been in a ring?..
    just because a fan has little or no technical knowledge about boxing does not mean they are a casual or non fan…They are fans who just like a bit more “entertainment”.. So quit sensationalizing your article using the “non fan” term.
    As good a boxer as Mayweather is, the truth is he will not be fighting anytime soon as TV audience will absolutely be lower following his Manny fight. And that does not make a hell of money and does not grow the sport.

    • Yes, I’ve spent plenty of time in both the ring and the cage. That’s how I know that what Mayweather does is extremely difficult.
      There’s nothing “sensationalizing” about the way I use the term “non fan” in this piece. The only use I made of the term was to refer to exactly that–non fans who tuned in to watch the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight because it generated so much extra interest in the media. I’m not saying anybody who doesn’t like Mayweather is a “non fan.” People who are actually boxing fans, whether they love Mayweather or hate him, were not surpised by the lack of wild exchanges. But “non fans” who were tuning in for the spectacle figured it would be something more exciting, since it was “the fight of the century.”
      I actually acknowledged that it’s understandable that a lot of fans don’t feel the same emotional connection to Mayweather that they do to other fighters who were in more back-and-forth fights. But I also acknoweldge that Mayweather’s ability to avoid damage is proof of genuine greatness and that he doesn’t “owe” anybody risking his health unnecessarily. It’s also not his responsibility to “grow” boxing. The sport has been doing fine regardless of that fight not living up to the naive hopes some had for it.
      As for Mayweather’s style “not making a hell of money” well, history proves you wrong on that count. Mayweather has been fighting the way he fights for years and has made more money than any other fighter in history.
      Your response frankly indicates either a lack of reading comprehension or that you simply get a hair across any time you see Mayweather praised at any level.
      Briggs Seekins

  • Gokit Eneluna

    no need to argue.. mayweather killed boxing! boxing is dead.