By Sean Crose
Okay, it’s time to face facts: Floyd Mayweather needs to face Manny Pacquiao. Brandon Rios may not have been stopped in China, but he was so battered, so thoroughly outclassed, that he looked at times like a punching bag.
Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank
It’s even arguable that Pacquiao looked better than he did before the Marquez blow that turned so many believers into non-believers. He didn’t risk much in this one – because he didn’t have to. Like Mayweather, this extremely talented man now realizes that, at a certain point, it pays to make sure you don’t get nailed.
That, I believe, makes him a huge threat to Mayweather. Don’t get me wrong, I still think the odds would be significantly in Floyd’s favor if the two meet…but this Pacquiao is all hit and run. He’s not going to stick around for a photo friendly finish – not for a second.
So, what’s Floyd to do? Well, he could hope the fans will have been underwhelmed by the fact PacMan didn’t score a knockout in China. That won’t work, though, because images like those of the younger Pacquiao won’t leave the public’s consciousness. Mayweather, therefore, is stuck with a boxing world that sees Pacquiao as a winner again.
Of course Mayweather could simply continue to ignore Pacquiao, claiming all the while that the fiery Filipino is still insignificant. That’s just going to sound like an excuse, however. That line may have worked for the past year and a half or so, but it’s not going to work any more.
A third option is for Mayweather to claim he wants the fight, then to drag out the negotiations indefinitely, hoping the whole thing will just fade away. Fans will see through that, too, however. Mayweather needs to understand that he, not Pacquiao, is the fighter who’s regularly accused of ducking solid opposition.
Lastly, Mayweather could play the “we’ll see” game and hope that Pacquiao will either lose or start to bore fans in his next few outings. Yet that will backfire, too. After looking so good in China, Pacquiao will always be able to accuse Mayweather of either ducking him or waiting for him to wither away if Money let’s this potential matchup evaporate into the ether.
As I’ve said before, superfight’s are basically there to answer a question on the public’s mind. And the public wants to know who’s the better of the two fighters in the ring. By refusing to face his most obvious rival, Mayweather risks his own reputation. There will always be an asterisk after his name in the public’s consciousness if he allows this opportunity to slide.
Truth is, this is a safer fight for Mayweather now than it ever was. Pacquiao looked like a maturing fighter in China – as opposed to a deteriorating fighter. The guy’s not going to take the risks he once did in order to drop or stop an opponent. That means there’s less of a chance than there was before that Floyd will end up on the canvas.
Of course Mayweather, being Mayweather, undoubtedly sees the flip side to that coin: that it’s harder to hit Pacquaio yourself when he’s cutting seconds off of a flurry. Although Mayweather is nearly impossible to hit cleanly, Pacquiao is hard to hit effectively, as well.
No matter. Floyd needs to make this fight happen. It’s what the fans want and his reputation depends on it. No one’s going to care if the fight would have been better three years ago. They’re just going to be thrilled to see both combatants in the same ring. Besides, Mayweather’s behemoth paycheck will undoubtedly make him happy no matter what the outcome of facing Pacquiao will be.