By Ari Gilberg
Floyd Mayweather seemingly has it all: the money, the fame, and the undefeated record. He’s a lock to be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame, and will go down as one of the greatest fighters to ever live. He’ll have one more thing too.
With recent negotiations reemerging between Mayweather’s and Pacquiao’s camps of a possible bout on May 2nd, boxing fans have been in a frenzy. Yet even if the fight finally happens, even if Mayweather records a knockout or a unanimous decision, it won’t matter. Both boxing fans and critics will still ask him that one important question.
Why didn’t it happen earlier?
To be considered the best, you have to beat the best. A simple saying that almost all athletes live by. The fact that fans may finally see the mega bout they’ve been dreaming of for years is great. But that’s just it; this is a fight that should’ve happened years earlier, when both Mayweather and Pacquiao were in their prime.Embed from Getty Images
Instead we’ll be given a fight featuring two boxers at the tail end of their careers. Mayweather will be 38 years old at the time of the supposed fight. Pacquiao will be 36. Yes they are both still competing at a high level, but, as their recent fights have shown, they have both seemed to have lost a step.
Mayweather hasn’t recorded a knockout since his 2007 fight with Ricky Hatton, Pacquiao since his 2009 bout versus Miguel Cotto.
In the first of his two 2014 fights against Marcus Maidana, Mayweather did not have the same defensive prowess he’s been known to have throughout his career, which led to him getting cut over his right eye in the fourth round.Embed from Getty Images
Pacquiao only has five losses in 64 fights. However, two have come in his past five bouts: a highly controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradley, followed by a knockout at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez.
While both have responded well since, it is evident they are not the fighters they were back in 2009. Which leaves Mayweather in a lose-lose-lose situation. There are three possible scenarios with each producing their own set of questions and criticism.
The first scenario being the fight does in fact (finally) happen and Mayweather defeats Pacquiao. Mayweather will most likely go on to fight Amir Khan, and his glass chin, and retire with an undefeated record. This is obviously the best-case scenario, yet it still leaves Mayweather open to criticism. Skeptics will still argue that if the Mayweather–Pacquiao fight happened back in 2009, when both were in their prime, Pacquiao could have defeated Mayweather. Back then Pacquiao had more of a penchant for knockouts, and was much more aggressive and agile.
The second scenario is negotiations, once again, fall through and the fight fans have been clamoring for years, fails to ever materialize. Mayweather will be called a coward and criticized for ducking Pacquiao his entire career, whether that is actually the truth or not.Embed from Getty Images
Mayweather would most likely fight Khan, followed by a rematch against Miguel Cotto, defeat both and retire with an undefeated record. However, fans and experts alike will never put Mayweather in the same catergory as all-time greats such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, etc. because he never fought his toughest competition like they did.
The third scenario, and the one that Mayweather has clearly thought about and is most likely the biggest contributor to stalled negotiations, is the fight does in fact happen…and Mayweather loses. If Mayweather does in fact lose, critics will be quick to point out that if he lost to an aging and slowed down Pacquiao now, just think how badly he would have gotten beat five years ago?
As CBS Sports and others have documented, Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum has openly claimed that Pacquiao will be Mayweather’s toughest challenge ever.
“[Mayweather] realizes that of all the fighters fought and all the fighters out there that Manny poses the biggest threat,” Arum said. “Why? Because Manny is fast, Manny can punch and Manny is left-handed. Floyd never wants to fight a left handed fighter because his style is designed to fight orthodox fighters.”
Will the fight every happen? And if it does, who will come out victorious? Only time will tell. However, no matter what the outcome is, Mayweather will still be forced to endure criticism and have his record stained with an asterisk, whether it’s deserved or not.