By Ivan G. Goldman
Yes, the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao super-fight May 2 might turn out to be a flop. That’s possible in any fight and sometimes it’s nobody’s fault.
For example, I recall seeing a first-round head clash that caused the contest to be stopped. What are you gonna do?
Also, the hype surrounding this spectacle is at such a level you could argue that there’s no chance it can meet expectations. If there’s a poor decision or some other kind of flub by officials, that could be another kind of horror.
Note that flops come in different degrees and categories. A super-flop of some kind would be a catastrophe, but the sport itself would recover. Fans would be coaxed back.
Remember, for the first time in decades they can now see excellent fights on prime time over national broadcast networks. If next week’s extravaganza is a dud some might swear they’ll never watch another boxing match. But when they learn they’ve missed some terrific fight they could have seen for free, they’ll return to the fold.
Still, when customers feel they’ve been shafted on a big pay-per-view event, there’s damage. Whether fans pay somebody $100,000 for a ringside seat or $100 to watch at home, they don’t want to be turned into chumps.
Pacquiao’s first fight with Timothy Bradley was about as inspiring as a crushed soda can, and then it was capped by a terrible split decision for Bradley. The publicists had dubbed it “Perfect Storm” and it was – a perfect storm of tedium, disappointment, and incompetence.
Then there was Mayweather’s snore-mongering contest with Carlos Baldomir in 2006. Every round was the same and nobody remembers any of them.
Mayweather’s silly outing against Victor Ortiz was so grotesque we should have gotten our money back. But you can’t blame that one on Floyd. The culprits were Ortiz and referee Joe Cortez. Ortiz committed an unpardonable foul and then forgot to protect himself at all times.
Cortez committed the unforgivable sin of failing to keep his eyes on the fighters when he signaled the timekeeper to begin. Flustered, he didn’t seem to be aware of where they were located, which was in range for Mayweather to deliver two sucker punches to foolish, unsuspecting Ortiz. Like Bradley-Pacquiao I, it was a perfect storm of disappointment — and didn’t even last four rounds.
Which brings to mind the old joke about the lady who complained the food was terrible and the portions were too small.
Mayweather fans say if you don’t like watching him you don’t understand boxing. I’ve never agreed with that because when a fighter doesn’t throw many combinations something is definitely missing from his attack. And when he repeatedly holds back on leveraging his punches so he can get them in and out quicker, he’s short-changing you.
Still, I do enjoy watching defensive-minded Floyd because he’s got such abundant talent. When he throws that lead right in the blink of an eye and leaves no possibility for a counter, that’s fun to see.
As for Pacquiao, his thrilling style fills in the blanks left by Floyd’s strategic technique. He’s looking to throw big punches in bunches, and he’s super-fast and not so easy to hit.
The fact is, when you have two really talented, lightning-quick guys in there, the odds are excellent that you’ll see something memorable. And these two aren’t just talented. They’re great.
What are the odds that this fight will be a flop? They’re poor. But bear in mind I’m thinking mostly in terms of how knowledgeable fans will judge these proceedings. Those who expect to see a Rocky film or a Game of Thrones sword fight you may end up inconsolable.
As for the rest of us, just the nerve-biting expectation when they file into the ring with their teams can give us goose bumps. Me? I’m all set for something grand. If I’m wrong, sue me.
New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman’s Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag was released in 2013 by Potomac Books. Watch for The Debtor Class: A Novel from Permanent Press in spring, 2015. More information here.