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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Why Pacquiao - Mayweather Is Important for Boxing

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After watching Manny Pacquiao utterly dominate Joshua Clottey last Saturday, the sports world has turned it's attention to the future for the Filipino sensation. Now that I've digested Pacquiao's performance - which more closely resembled a Class B Felony than a boxing match - I'm now convinced, more than ever, that he and Floyd Mayweather must enter the ring together sometime this fall. It just has to happen.

Right now, Mayweather is busy preparing for his May 1 bout with "Sugar" Shane Mosley, but he is never above discussing Pacquiao. If Mayweather bests Mosley - as virtually everyone agrees he will - the only fight of any magnitude left for either man is one that includes the other. Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach clearly want that fight, the sports world wants that fight and most importantly, boxing needs that fight.

Boxing currently lacks a wealth of marketable stars. A huge pay-per-view featuring its two biggest names and including an undercard stacked with a litany of young stars could expose the public to the best the sport has to offer. Plus, the matchup of "Money May" and "Pacman" is too irresistible not to happen.

The styles of the two fighters mesh perfectly. Mayweather has often been criticized for his tendency to run away and rely too much on his defensive ability and natural skill to out-point his opponents in decisions. Pacquiao on the other hand loves to fight. He takes the fight to his opponents and loves to brawl on the inside and push for knockouts. Pacquiao would force Mayweather to fight with him. He's fast enough that Floyd wouldn't be able to run away. On the other hand, Mayweather's incredible counter-punching ability would surely be the perfect antidote to Pacman's attacking style. It's almost too perfect.

A matchup of the two greatest fighters on the planet would be the biggest thing in boxing since Ali-Frazier I. It would also easily become the highest grossing fight in the history of the sport, would be watched by more people than any previous Pay-Per-View contest, make both men an enormous amount of money and quite possibly allow boxing to have the sporting event of the year for the first time in decades. The sport needs a pick-me-up and the matchup of two guys in their primes, who firmly sit among the top 25 fighters of all-time, would give the needed boost.

Unfortunately, to this point I'm not convinced Mayweather has any desire to step in the ring with Pacquiao. He tentatively agreed to the fight in December before he and his father began accusing Pacquiao of using performance-enhancing drugs. His camp demanded Olympic-style testing of both fighters, with repeated, random blood tests despite the Nevada State Athletic Commission's already tough standards. Some feel Mayweather's camp was justified in its requests, others believe it was an excuse Floyd could use to get out of a fight he didn't really want. I'm firmly in the later camp.

When both sides met with a moderator to sort out their differences, Pacquiao's team gave considerable concessions on the drug testing front. They were willing to meet many of Mayweather's demands but Floyd wouldn't budge and the negotiations ended without a resolution.

Right now Pacquiao is the best fighter on the planet. He has emerged from the South Pacific like a typhoon to take the sport by storm over the past decade. He has wreaked havoc on the best boxing has had to offer, consistently fighting the biggest names available to him. I believe he sits among the top 10 men to ever put on gloves and enter a ring. If he were to beat Mayweather there is no doubt in my mind he would enter the top three, joining Henry Armstrong and Sugar Ray Robinson. For my money, Mayweather is currently in the top 25 of all-time, but a win over Pacquiao would put him firmly in the top 10 and assuredly make him the best of his generation.

I hope that type of motivation is enough for each man to put aside there differences and finally meet in the ring. Their fans, their critics, and their sport demand it.

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