By Rudy Mondragon
It’s been almost 24 hours since the ending of the highly anticipated Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. As a boxing expert, critic, and fan, I felt it was necessary to engage in conversations with fellow boxing heads. I felt the need to reflect and think about what happened last night.
Many casual fans and boxing heads alike were left disappointed. Many reduced Mayweather’s performance as merely “running” and “hugging.” Minimizing Floyd’s performance to simply “running” and “hugging” was a convenient rationalization for boxing fans who ignored the fact that Mayweather actually out threw (435 to 429) and out landed (148-81) a more than game Manny Pacquiao. Clinching (or as many put it, “hugging”) is a tool used by many boxers and ring generalship (or as many put it, “running”) is something that judges actually use when judging a fight.
Last night’s fight was not for the fans who privilege a brawling style of fighting. Floyd Mayweather is a master technician who does not take risks and does enough to win by points. His style is one of “swim without getting wet.” That is exactly what he did last night. For fans who expected or hoped to see a toe-to-toe Mayweather is the same thing as watching Furious 7 and hoping or expecting to see a movie about cats.
Manny Pacquiao deserves credit for showing up and trying to win a fight against a boxer whose style does not suit him. He was outsmarted last night. Pacquiao did learn from his KO defeat to Marquez as he did not lunge forward and make himself vulnerable to the traps Mayweather was setting in the corners. Pacquiao made contact early on and backed Floyd up, but he never quite hurt Floyd. I give Manny credit for those things.
Yet, Manny was conservative throughout the fight. They both were as I saw they had a mutual respect for each other. At times it was too much respect that Floyd gave Pacquiao because if he had taken some more risks, I believe he could have knocked Manny down and eventually stopped him. But again, Floyd did enough to win the fight on the cards. He saw no point in taking risks.
I had the fight even half way through. Past the 6th round, Floyd had figured Manny out and out pointed him and made him miss. From that point on, I saw a Floyd Mayweather that was fighting a chess match style fight and Manny playing checkers as he made no adjustments and simply came forward. Where were the angles, footwork, power punches, and pain that Manny is so well known for? It wasn’t that Manny had a bad night, it was more that Floyd made Manny look like an average fighter, no different than the rest of the opponents down the Mayweather line. Not even Juan M Marquez could do that against Manny.
Styles make fights. For those who want a brawling death match, tune in next week for Canelo vs Kirkland. If you tuned in last night thinking that Floyd would go toe-to-toe, then you have not been paying attention. Floyd’s style is one of counter punching and landing accurate shots. Manny’s style is going forward, yet if you noticed, Manny was not moving forward foolishly against Floyd. Part of this was Floyd controlling the distance and another part was Manny’s respect for Floyd’s right hand. I’m not saying Floyd was throwing bombs last night, far from it. I am saying that Floyd’s right hand was accurate and strong enough to keep Manny at arms length.
Both fighters had 12 rounds to make adjustments throughout the fight. Like I said before, the difference between these two is that Manny makes adjustments BETWEEN fights, Floyd makes adjustments DURING fights. Pacquiao fought the same for 12 rounds where as Floyd set traps, used his check left hook, threw straight rights, and threw a few upper cuts.
So this is where I make my case for why Floyd truly is THE BEST EVER. I’m not saying he is the number 1 pound for pound of all time. I’m not saying he is in the top 10 best of all time nor the top 20 of all time.
Floyd knows the industry of boxing. It is corrupt and grimy. Floyd has worked to create his own identity, separating himself from the marketing label that was made for him when he was with Top Rank. From Pretty Boy (emphasis on boy, this dude is a man) to Money Mayweather, Floyd has recreated himself on his terms. Being his own boss and working to call the shots, Floyd has taken control of his career in an industry that will use you until you are of no use to those that control the industry.
For Floyd to envision that one day he would make 9 figures and actually do it is worth respecting. In a sport where there is no pension or retirement plan or health insurance, Floyd has navigated the business to the point where he is looking out for his best interest and health. Again, on his terms, not Top Rank or Golden Boy terms.
His style is also resistant to the demand of boxing fans and promoters who want you to kill or be killed when you are in the ring. Floyd executes a political boxing style of resistance and does not succumb to the pressures of performing in a fan pleasing style. This is not to say that Floyd doesn’t care about his fans. Floyd is one of the few who will spend extra time signing autographs and thanking his fans after his fights. It is more of Floyd not giving in to sacrificing his body and brains simply to please the powers that be who want to see a Black man lose violently in the ring.
In boxing, a good versus evil moral context is created. In this contest (and many others), Floyd has assumed the role of villain to entertain fans and he has done it well. Fans have grown to hate Floyd to the point where they are willing to cough up a C Note to hopefully see Floyd fall. In this fight, Manny was the ever contradictory Christian Saint while Floyd was nothing but a flamboyant, arrogant, capitalistic, money hungry devil. Both boxers have their history of faults, but in this contest, the context was set again pinning Floyd as the misfit who needed to be controlled and disciplined, and Manny was the man who would humble and control Floyd. It didn’t happen as Floyd came out victorious and again denied people of the pleasures of seeing Floyd fail.
Floyd Mayweather is The Best Ever because he has done things on his terms and has used the sport of boxing for his gain versus letting the sport of boxing use him as a tool. Floyd and Manny have changed the game forever in the economical sense. A new bar has been set by these two. Who will be the next boxer to earn a 9 figure payday? What will that boxer(s) career be like leading up to that pay day? This is why Floyd is ‘Money Mayweather’ and he does not deny that. Financially, he has cashed in like no other boxer in history. Who else can say that? Economically, Floyd “Money” Mayweather is The Best Ever. In the political sense, not visible to the untrained eye, he is a nonconformist who refuses to be controlled and disciplined in an industry that aims to control fighters of color.