By Sean Crose
Some of us can still remember the good old days: Holmes-Cooney, Leonard-Hearns, Hagler-Hearns, Hagler-Leonard. Back then, you see, superfights were superfights. There was perhaps one a year – at best. It received a lot of attention and is most likely still talked about today. Don’t believe me? Take any two fight fans from the eighties and ask them who they think won the Hagler-Leonard fight. Chances are, you’ll have an argument on your hands.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
Let’s face it, most of today’s superfights really aren’t that super. I’m not talking about the quality of the fights, here, either. I’m talking about the enormity of the matchup. Mayweather-DeLaHoya, for instance, wasn’t a great fight. It qualifies as a legitimate superfight, though, on account of the relevance of both fighters. Could the same be said of Mayweather-Hatton? Of course not. That may have been a much more entertaining bout, but it didn’t truly resonate.
And that’s what a superfight has to do in order to be a true superfight. It has to resonate. Even outside the world of boxing. Mike Tyson made the cover of Time magazine before battling Michael Spinks. People, everyday people, were talking about the matchup out in the real world before the two men ever stepped foot in the ring.
Can the same be said of Pacquaio-Rios? Of course not. Truth is, Saturday night’s extravaganza would make a great H.B.O. battle. Back in the day, H.B.O. would actually broadcast fights like Pacquaio-Rios, contests that were big bouts, but still didn’t qualify as superfights. Think Tyson-Holmes back in 1988.
At it’s essence, a superfight answers a question that’s on everyone’s mind. Sadly, no one really has a burning desire to know if Manny can take Brandon. People want to see if Manny still has it, sure, but Brandon doesn’t fit into the equation all that much. If Manny beats Brandon, and beats him soundly, well, then we’ve got another potential superfight in the making. As things stand now, though…
Why, then, are there so many fights on pay-per-view that, in reality, belong on paid-cable? The answer, of course, is money. Pacquaio’s going to make a lot of money this weekend. Guys like Bob Arum figure enough people will pay to see Pacquaio to justify the costs. I don’t know the math behind all this, but I’d be willing to bet Bob is right.
And so promotions keep pushing the envelope, almost daring the public to pay to see an interesting, though not extraordinary, matchup. They may, however, be starting to push the envelope too far. I’d be interested in seeing how well Mayweather’s next fight will do. We all know what the answer will be if he chooses to battle a Pacquaio, a Golovkin or even a – gasp! – a Hopkins.
What will happen if he takes to the ring with Amir Khan, though? Will people really want to cough up the better side of a hundred dollars to see that? What about Danny Garcia? Is he yet a proven commodity? The problem Mayweather has is he’s so good, there’s not many out there who actually have any chance of beating him. Do people really want to pay for a fight when they pretty much know the ending in advance?
Which brings us to what may perhaps be a promising future. If Mayweather wants to keep bringing in Fort Knox every time he fights, he might have to start regularly facing guys who could beat him. There’s not many out there, but there ARE a few. And they might just make for a superfight worthy of the name.