IF the papers finally get signed, Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao looks ready to drop off the top of that sad heap of great lost fights; brushing past Lennox Lewis–Riddick Bowe, Nigel Benn–Roy Jones, Larry Holmes–George Foreman on its way down.
But how far will it fall? Because in the opinion of many, even if this fight does take place in 2015, it’s too late. The great fight that was supposed to have happened was in 2010 when ‘Money’ was aged 33 and the ‘Pac Man’ 31.
Instead, disputes over blood tests and pay splits put pay to our generation’s version of Muhammad Ali-George Foreman, albeit at the MGM Grand and not a crumbling stadium in Zaire (though some reports suggested that Mayweather-Pacquiao would happen at the Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas or even in a custom built open air structure on the outskirts of the Vegas strip).
Despite us being in 2015, Mayweather-Pacquiao is still good scheduling as both men are rated in the Top 2 pound for pound list. It’s still one of the best fights that boxing could make – even if Pacquiao doesn’t carry the same awe as he did in 2009 when comprehensive wins over Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto led many to believe that his speed and power could cause Mayweather serious problems. If the fight happens and Mayweather wins, he’ll still end up facing accusations that he missed Pacquiao when the Filipino was at the height of his powers.
Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson also falls into this weird category of a fight that did happen, whilst at the same time still being considered a great fight that never was. Lewis will never be given the credit for beating Tyson, because the 2002 version of ‘Iron Mike’ was a shadow of the man he once was. Lewis and Tyson, who were near enough the same age, could have fought in 1996 but Lewis was paid to step aside and make way for Bruce Seldon who was the WBA champion. Instead of Lewis-Tyson and the heavyweight super fight of the 1990s, Tyson-Seldon provided the fans with a one round farce and accusations that Seldon went down to a phantom punch. Tyson-Lewis was so long in the making that even a comprehensive Lennox win was brushed aside by his doubters who said that a younger version of Tyson would have won.
Another example in this category was Sam Langford–Jack Johnson from the early 20th Century. That fight did happen once in 1906, when Johnson was the ‘World Coloured Champion’ and the inexperienced Langford was a middleweight. The great fight that never happened was years later when Jack Johnson was the world heavyweight champion and Langford had established himself as the biggest terror on the heavyweight scene. Rather than fight Langford, it was easier for Johnson to fight ‘white hopes’ and ignore the best black contenders in his weight class, none more deadly than the ‘Boston Tar Baby’.
Despite being past its sell by date, Lewis-Tyson broke box office records and still stands as the highest grossing heavyweight fight. It happened only because the cable broadcasters HBO and Showtime came together and negotiated a joint production. They realised that by coming together and sharing the wealth they would all be better off because the fight would generate so much more compared to any other fight. Same scenario here, as Showtime’s Mayweather versus the HBO contacted Pacquiao will rely on joint cooperation from TV companies and promoters. They say it’s finally about to happen, now let’s wait and see.