By Ivan G. Goldman
This is the week of nerves.
Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather have begun to ease up on the training that kept their minds occupied for weeks. So now the magnitude of the fight itself, which always hovered above them but at some kind of distance, is a demon leering at them from no more than an arm’s length away.
When they’ve got almost nothing to do except concentrate on making the weight, they have time and energy to think, and thoughts wash over them like ice water.
They know that once inside the ring, their instincts will take over.
Or will they?
Can they really go twelve hard rounds against this guy? They think about certain moves they must watch for, but they can’t fall for feints either. A tricky business, boxing.
The fighters console themselves with the knowledge of their own formidable skills and determination. But they know the opponent is also a really dangerous dude and very, very difficult to beat. Only a split second of lapsed concentration can bring disaster.
It’s the knockout that makes the fight game so different. You can’t lose a basketball or football game if you’re way ahead with ten seconds left on the clock. They both understand the possibilities. But maybe it’s the other guy who will crumble under this pressure.
Meanwhile writers clustered from around the world have to find something to write about, and the fighters no longer give them new material. They’re hunkered down behind a wall of security and have no time for the same questions they’ve already answered the same way a thousand times. It’s been a great camp and I’m as ready as I’ve ever been, blah, blah, blah.
Sportswriters always need an angle for their stories. I was particularly impressed with the one Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times came up with this morning: “We are here to report the news,” he said, and “there is none.”
But when your employer is paying you salary plus expenses, you have to come up with something anyway. The promoters also demand you produce a steady stream of words built on no new facts of interest. That’s why they’re giving you a seat that they could sell for $50,000 in the scalping bazaar. You’re a professional – come up with something!
Maybe the odds are moving in one direction or another. Find a family member or somebody from the team and come back with something not entirely terrible, preferably some tidbit no one else has.
Listen, if you’re a stuck writer, I feel for you. So here’s a list of topics:
The fight will be great
The undercard stinks.
What a great undercard!
Nobody gives a damn about the undercard.
The pay-per-view numbers will be much better than expected.
The projected numbers are a fantasy.
Forget about a knockout.
It can’t possibly go the distance.
The cutmen are ready.
The scalpers are ready.
Look, there’s a Showtime guy working with an HBO guy!
Boxing is a dead sport anyway.
Hmm, it appears to be breathing.
Anybody seen Al Haymon?