By Sean Crose
It looks like it’s about that time, fight fans. We were all hoping against hope that the long dreamed of Mayweather-Pacquiao Super Bout could somehow, someway, come to fruition. Yet it’s time to push that dream aside. Barring a highly unlikely course of events, the match will never happen while both men remain exceptional. Why am I so sure of this? Because I’ve heard Mayweather’s words with my own ears.
During a recent interview with Fight Hype, Money May said something that those who truly listen can understand. Speaking of the business of boxing, the pound for pound great claimed “it’s about taking less punishment as you can possibly take, for the highest reward.” Thinking about those words (which I’ve quoted verbatim), it’s hard not to arrive at a somber conclusion: Mayweather now intends on picking fighters who aren’t likely to physically hurt him.
And Manny Pacquiao is one of those fighters who can hurt him. Despite the fact many claim the man isn’t what he once was, PacMan can sill dish it out. Take a good look at Brandon Rios’ face during his November matchup with Pacquiao in Macau if you find yourself in need of solid evidence.
Truth be told, I think Mayweather can beat Pacquiao (and I’d be willing to bet a majority of serious boxing observers would agree with me). Still, I’m not completely sold on a guaranteed Mayweather victory. Pacquiao is incredibly fast, after all. Plus he strikes from odd angles. Plus he’s intensely aggressive. And let’s not forget that the guy can whack.
The point here is that out of all Mayweather’s potential opponents, I still feel that none have a better chance of beating him than Pacquiao does. And if Pacquiao were to beat him, it wouldn’t be in a harmless fashion. Pacquiao would do it by making the guy they used to call “Pretty Boy Floyd” a bit less pretty. Frankly, it’s the only way Pacquiao would know how to win.
Still, it helps if we look at things, at least for a moment, through Mayweather’s eyes. He’s nearly 40. He’s received no serious damage from his ring wars and he brings in a mint each and every time he fights. A match with Pacquiao may deliver a gold mine for him, but it also may deliver a real beating – and the guy clearly doesn’t want that. It would destroy any aura of invincibility, demolish his perfect record and, quite frankly, be emotionally and physically painful.
It’s far easier, really, for Mayweather to face, say, Amir Khan, who will bring in untold Euros for far less risk. After that, Mayweather can pick a few more low risk, high-popularity opponents and likely exit the sport on top of the heap. As Mayweather himself has said, “it’s not about working harder. It’s about working smarter.”
And, let’s face it, it’s smart for Mayweather to avoid Pacquiao at this point in his career.
That doesn’t mean those of us who love boxing have to like it, however. This is a sport of risks, after all, and Mayweather stepped into it willingly. In fact, he’s taking a risk now by thinking like a businessman rather than as a fighter. Great as he is, Mayweather will always have Pacquiao standing beside his resume like a giant asterisk if he avoids the Filipino legend. That means Mayweather will forever stand charged with ducking the best possible opponent.
Bottom line: if Mayweather lets this chance to battle Pacquiao pass, he will inevitably leave the sport with a question mark rather than with an exclamation point. And that will really be too bad. Not just for boxing fans, but for Mayweather himself. We should believe Mayweather when he claims he fears no one. Yet the man should ask himself if he’s now being too smart for his own good.