If that was “The Fight of the Century,” it might also be Exhibit A as to why boxing has faded in the American sports landscape. There was a lot of hype and a lot of buildup for Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao, but in the end, there was a lot of boredom.
Mayweather improved to 48-0, but he may have hugged Pacquiao more times than he punched him.
“I can appreciate what (Mayweather) does, and I appreciate his skill level and I appreciate his talent, there’s no doubt,” former lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “But it was a bust-out fight. It was a bust. I said last week that the buildup was so big that the hype could never live up to what it’s supposed to be. Could never live up to it. Unless it was Ali/Frazier I or Ali/Frazier III or even Hagler/Hearns, it was going to be nothing left. It would fall short. The buildup was so much the fight didn’t live up to it by no means, and I had a hard time understanding why the build up was (what it was).
“I understand we’re trying to make it the biggest sporting event in the last 10 years or five years or whatever it is,” Mancini continued. “But we all know what Mayweather brings to the table. We know he’s going to come (out), move (around), he’s going to clutch and grab. I’ve said it repeatedly. Floyd will beat you the easiest way. He’ll slap you around for 12 rounds but he won’t engage. He won’t stay in the pocket and dig it out and go toe-to-toe and try to knock you out. He doesn’t have that in him. Ray Leonard had that in him. Ray Leonard wanted to embarrass you, annihilate you. He didn’t want you to finish the fight. Floyd will smack you around for 12 rounds if he could and he’ll be satisfied.”
Given that, wasn’t the onus on Pacquiao to be more aggressive and try to force the action as much as possible?
“I think he knew that and I think he was as aggressive as he could be,” Mancini said. “I had said repeatedly also: I think Mayweather wins because he’s bigger faster, stronger. That’s a trifecta in boxing. That’s all you got to be. My head says Floyd, conventional wisdom says Floyd, my heart says Manny – and it was true. Manny tried. He came forward, but Floyd is a different type of animal. He’s in, out, side to side. He’s quicker (and) faster than Manny probably figured he was. Manny’s fast, but Floyd’s faster. Manny’s quick, but Floyd’s quicker.
“So yeah, Manny came for it. He did try. Manny did what he could do. I think it’s up to Floyd to close the show and give the fans what they want to see. That’s not floyd’s MO. Floyd’s just taking the money to run. He’s not going to engage. He already was guaranteed $180 (million). You think he’s going to get ambitious in one night? That ain’t going to happen. It was a good fight, not a great fight. It was better than I thought it would be.”
Mancini didn’t buy Pacquiao’s claim that he wasn’t aggressive in the later rounds because he thought he was ahead. In fact, Mancini doesn’t even think Pacquiao believed it.
“No, fighters know,” Mancini said. “Fighters know when they’re winning, when they’re losing. I think in Manny’s case, he’s trying to say that he came forward, he was trying to fight (and) the other guy was running. That’s what he’s saying. I’ve read that people are making a point or trying to make an argument that Manny won the fight – and I’m a Manny fan. But he didn’t win that fight.”
Had this fight happened five years ago, as many people would have preferred, Mancini doesn’t think the result would have been different. The hype and the money would have been different, but not the result.
“What does that say about the state of boxing that the biggest fight five years ago was still the biggest fight (today)?” Mancini asked. “That just shows you the lack of stars that we have.”
Asked about the legacies of Mayweather and Pacquiao, Mancini said both are probably the greatest fighters of the 12-round era and are top 30 all-time. Mayweather may be unblemished, but it hurts that he more or less hand-picked everyone he fought – and when he fought them.
“That’s been my argument,” Mancini said. “Here’s a guy who’s been picking and choosing his guys. That’s why I said top 30. Greatest of the 12-round era. But we all know that 15 rounds has changed the history of boxing. We all know that. So I put him in that category for the greatest of the 12-round era and top 30 of all time.
“Great fighter. I’m never going to take anything from his skill and what he’s accomplished. He’s a great fighter. But I would’ve liked to see how he (would have) competed against Ray, Tommy, Benitez and Duran back then. Would he have been competitive? Yes. Would he have beaten all of them? No. Would he have beaten some of them? Maybe. But he wouldn’t have been undefeated. That’s for sure.”