From 2009 until relatively recently there has seldom ever been a debate in the sporting arena which has raged for so long, and resulted in such a dichotomy of opinion.
The debate in question, of course, revolves around whether a fight between Floyd Mayweather Jnr vs Manny Pacquaio would ever come to fruition, and if it did, who would be the victor.
These issues, fraught with such contention, polarised opinion of the boxing public to the point of almost exact symmetry.
In one corner, I introduce the boxing purists in favour of Money Mayweather. In the other, we have the blood thirsty fight fanatics, who idolise Manny Pacquaio.
Sadly, though, both debates are now pretty redundant as the fight no longer has any real relevance, and the raging debate about whom would emerge victorious now has been replaced with the common consensus that Floyd Mayweather Jnr would do what he nearly always does: win by unanimous decision.
Yet a question that is still relevant, but still remains unanswered, is: Did Floyd Mayweather Jnr deliberately dodge facing a prime Manny Pacquaio?
Lest we forget, there was a period in time when anyone who had the audacity to even float the suggestion of a super fight between both athletes would have been bundled into a back of a van by the men in the white suits. But, then, in one of the most thrilling sequence of fights in any era, Manny Pacquaio consistently proved the seemingly physically impossible to be a mere inconvenience as he embarked on a one man reign terror which tore through the higher weight classes, yielded him titles from 130lb-154lb and reduced the sports aristocracy to rubble in little over 32 months (March 2008 to November 2010). This magical period rounded off a decade in which Pacquaio’s brilliance was the beating heart of boxing, a time for which his endeavours were justly rewarded with the accolade of ‘Fighter of the Decade.’
So from being perceived not only as a pipe dream but a physical impossibility, suddenly, by 2009, anyone who failed to see the merits in a fight between the two men would have been sent to the Asylum.
It was the only fight the World wanted to see. The sort of transcending clash the sport normally only throws up once in a generation. More importantly, though, it was a chance for either man to prove- unequivocally-that there were the best pound for pound boxer of their generation.
Both men were overwhelmingly the best pound-for-pound operators in the sport, so logically speaking it was the only acceptable course of action to take, right? Manny Pacquaio, who looked visibly excited whenever quizzed about the possibility, certainly seemed to think so. Therefore, all that was needed was the self confessed face of boxing, Floyd Mayweather, to share Pacman’s enthusiasm, and Boxing would have its biggest bout in the 21st Century.
Yet, the normally extroverted, super confident, trash talking Mayweather was surprisingly subdued about the subject, refusing in some instances, to even state whether he actually was or wasn’t interested in fighting Pacquaio. The way he avoided the issue in some media appearances is embarrassingly reminiscent of George W Bush and Tony Blair at their most evasive throughout the WMD enquiry.
But, surely Mayweather, an undefeated, multi-weight world champion was interested, right?
In every other sport, the best always compete against the best, so the fight should have been a four gone conclusion, really. Especially as Mayweather is a man who prides himself on the fact that he has never ever ducked any opponents in a career that has seen him win a host of titles in 5 different weight classes, dispatching of the best of the best in the process and still remain undefeated at 36 years old.
But Mayweathers’ supposed modus operandi definitely changed in the Pacquaio saga. Even the most partisan of Mayweather apostles must concede that his contractual demands and refusal to engage in a fair and meaningful negotiation process made the possibility of a P-P-V thriller diminish by the day.
Yet in the interests of objectivity, perhaps Pacquaio could have agreed to Mayweather demands- however fanciful and unfair they were- such as random drug testing and a 60-40 split in P-P-V revenue, in order to ensure a script so unrealistic, even Hollywood would have left it on the cutting room floor, became reality, played out in real time, in front of a global audience of adoring fans and non-fans alike.
Instead Pacman’s refusal to be held to ransom has resulted in many spurious rumours that his reign in the sport has been aided and abetted by performance enhancing drugs. Mayweather, on the other hand, lives free from the wrath of fight fans that conveniently choose to forget how he routinely sabotaged the negotiations to fight Pacquaio for a number of years.
Still, Mayweather definitely deserves to go down as one of the greatest ever boxers to grace the game. His achievements are beyond reproach, a testament to his enduring genius and dedication to his craft. But, one of his biggest legacies-which like his accomplishments must also be remembered-is how he deprived the World of a dream fight by ducking a prime Manny Pacquaio with the same precision he uses to dodge his opponents punches.