By Ivan G. Goldman
If you paid $100 to see the “fight of the century” on pay-per-view, you just might identify with the investor in the old Wall Street refrain who points out, “The guy who sold me the stock made money, my broker made money. . .Two out of three ain’t bad.”
The seller and the broker who profited from the transaction would of course represent the fighters, their teams, HBO, Showtime, the MGM Grand casino, and everyone else who soaked up some of the hundreds of millions spent by fans for this fight.
The record-breaking 4.4 million pay-per-view buys was, however, bad news for the sport. The event emitted a harsh ray of negative light that’s best confined under a sealed-off bushel.
Imagine how positive it might have been had Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao been more like a fight and less like a dreary parody that never seemed to get started?
Excuses came fast: Manny’s shoulder, Floyd’s brittle hands. And then we learned that the Nevada commissioners charged with making crucial pre-fight rulings were apparently all chosen by Homer Simpson.
But sports fans didn’t watch to hear excuses or accounts of the foolish choices made by officials. They wanted to see a great sporting contest, particularly after being seduced into paying a record price and watching a mediocre undercard.
And now there are suggestions of a rematch?
That would be like getting run over by a cement truck and deciding, hey, let’s try that again.
It’s a concept that works over and over again in Hollywood, which has mastered the art of extracting profits from a lousy movie and then increasing the take by reselling sequels to imbeciles who keep buying the same crap over and over again because they’re hoping that maybe the next one will be better.
And very soon we started hearing from commentators who know very little about boxing who told us that now the sport will be dead again.
Boxing is not a creature in a horror film. It’s a great, though flawed sport that was very much alive before the fight on May 2 and is alive today, though a little less steady in the legs. So no, the first fight of the century didn’t manage to kill boxing, but a Part Two could change all that.
The rematch rumor is relatively harmless, but make it reality and it could be deadly. I admit we’ve seen worse ideas. The decision to invade Iraq comes to mind.
Anyway, here’s something positive that I did take away from the fight. I wanted the better fighter to win, and as far as I can determine, that’s what happened.
But I still don’t want to hear all those Floyd toadies telling me he’s the best ever and if you don’t like the way he fights you don’t understand boxing.
I appreciate the way Floyd masters the squared circle with great athletic movement, super speed, and fantastic conditioning. But when a fighter is dominating his opponent he might make some effort at ending the contest before the twelfth round is up, which is what Floyd’s father kept telling him to do.
When Canelo Alvarez had James Kirkland in trouble last Saturday night, he didn’t need Floyd Senior to instruct him. He got Kirkland out of there. You can’t get them every time, but knockouts are very much a part of the sport. And if you don’t think so, you, Mister, don’t know much about boxing.
Pacquiao, despite what conspiracy theorists say, almost certainly did have a bum shoulder. The people who operated on him afterward weren’t just playing doctors on TV. But Manny took the money and got in the ring so Mayweather’s victory was definitely deserved.
Also, rematch-seekers, please take note that when aging athletes suffer a serious injury there’s a strong possibility it won’t heal well enough for him or her to compete again at the same level. Manny, 36, might want to consider challenging the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, also 36, for golf or some other less taxing activity.
One of the many injuries that sidelined Bryant during the last couple of years was a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, precisely the same injury Team Pacquiao says Manny suffered while training for Floyd.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available now from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.