I'll be taking a two-week vacation, so I want to blog about the big fight before I go away. Fortunately, I'll get back just in time to see it on pay-per-view.
I love boxing. I mean I really LOVE boxing. "The sweet science" is one of my favorite sports. I subscribe to RING magazine – "the Bible of Boxing." I check the Maxboxing site frequently. I Tivo fights regularly and have bought PPV fights in the past. I've also gone to see some fights in person. I saw Mike Tyson fight twice: once when he beat Mitch "Blood" Green in Madison Square Garden (a win by lop-sided decision) and once against Evander Holyfield in Las Vegas for the heavyweight championship, and no, it wasn't the ear-biting fight. It was the first fight, which Holyfield won by TKO in the seventh round, largely owing to his repeated head butts. Which is why Tyson bit him in the second fight when Holyfield tried to do the same thing.
I have a small but choice library of books on boxing. I watch fights on Spanish language stations, even though I don't understand Spanish. I watch MMA, of all kinds and vintages. I'll just say it plainly: I like to watch two guys try to beat the crap out of each other. (And girls, too, for that matter. Have you seen Ronda Rousey?)
Which brings us to Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquaio, the dream fight that boxing fans have been waiting for so long that it's five years overdue. I'm complaining only a little, but Money is 38 and Manny is 36. They were fresher a few years ago. Still, they both fight at the highest level, -- Mayweather is #1 on Ring magazine's "pound-for-pound" list, and Manny is #3 -- and it should be a helluva fight.
It's hard to pick against Floyd Mayweather. He's 47-0, with 26 KOs. He's a superb technical fighter who knows how to frustrate his opponents and win. At this point in his career, he does not want to get hurt. (Before he was called "Money," he was called "Pretty Boy.") He'll fight defensively and try to do just enough to win a decision. Manny Pacquiao is 57-5-2, with 38 KOs. A couple of those losses were early in his career, but he got knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez recently. Granted, Manny got careless in that fight, going in for the kill when he thought he had Marquez hurt, but that just shows that Manny is not the meticulous fighter that Mayweather is. Manny is always offense-minded and that might give Mayweather chances to counter. Mayweather has become a very crafty fighter over the years, to complement his extraordinary athletic gifts. That could be trouble for Manny, especially if he falls behind on the scorecards and has to become aggressive, hence opening himself up to Floyd.
And there is always the question of age. Fighters can get old in one night. One of these guys' reflexes might have slowed just enough for the other to dominate. Both fighters are very fast, and Manny has shown how he can beat bigger, stronger fighters with his speed and constant work. He ended Oscar de la Hoya's career, dominating him with speed. Time can play tricks on a fighter, very suddenly.
Boxing's history of Mega-fights is somewhat checkered (like everything else in boxing, come to think of it.) There have been great Mega-fights: Ali vs. Frazier in Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971. I remember that night because I was at a poetry reading by James Dickey ("Buckdancer's Choice," Deliverance, etc.) at the 92nd Street Y, and he cut the reading short because he was going to the fight. Other Mega-fights that have paid off in excitement include Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns in 1981 and Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns in 1985, for two. Other Mega-fights, however, have proven to be busts: Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks in 1988 (a one round KO by Iron Mike) and Evander Holyfield vs. Buster Douglas in 1990, etc.
But this is one Mega-fight that has a chance to live up to the hype, and that's because Manny is an aggressive fighter; he will force the action. Win or lose, Manny will come forward and test Mayweather's stamina and his chin.
There are many ways to break down a fighter and evaluate his ability: hand speed ... endurance ... footwork ... experience ... physical condition ... intelligence and strategy ... killer instinct ... ability to slip and block punches ... chin and resilience ... athleticism ... in-fighting skills ... individual punch skills (jab, power of lead hand, power of trail hand, hook, cross/uppercut) ... corner (manager and cut man) ... poise and ability to cope with outside pressures ... ring generalship ... effective aggressiveness ... heart ...
All these individual elements are fun and interesting to consider, but boxing is about the total person, the total fighter. And I just don't see Mayweather's losing to Manny. As much as I love Manny's zest for combat, I think Money has too many skills for him.
Mayweather hasn't knocked anybody out since 2011, and I don't expect him to open himself up and risk going for a knockout. But I think he will jab-and-grab, hurt Manny enough times when he comes in, and be content to win a close decision.
They are charging $89.95 for this fight – far more than any other PPV fight. But I'll pay up. This is not a fight to miss. These are very tactical, intelligent fighters, but there's a chance that things could open up and we could have a real slugfest. Either way, these are two of the best fighters of our time, and their battle will be worth watching. There is nothing in sports like the thrill of a great fight.
Here are a few YouTube boxing highlights to get your blood flowing –
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acoW1kDliAk -- Floyd Mayweather's Top 5 Moments
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7a3IH-Dxlw -- Manny Pacquaio highlights
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WFrr-BDL8U -- Ali vs. Frazier highlights – from all three fights
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-478QGV9p -- Mike Tyson knockout collection
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s--I8BsgDU -- Round 1 of Hagler-Hearns – arguably the greatest boxing round of all time
and for you boxing historians out there –
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OeeCfbahwQ -- Jack Dempsey vs. Gene Tunney – the famous "long count" rematch