by James Oddy (Boxing Correspondent)
Las Vegas – Boxing is a truly unique sport. Aside from its very nature, two men or women attempting to knock each other out before they get knocked out, the way it works is baffling.
So when the ‘Fight of the Century’ takes place this month, Mayweather vs Pacquiao, it’s unlikely almost anyone inside the 16,000-seater stadium is an average joe. At the time of writing, tickets, allegedly starting at over $3000 for the very worst view, haven’t even been printed, let alone sold to members of the public.
Inside, ringside and elsewhere, the stadium is likely to be made up of celebrities, dignitaries, VIP’s, high rollers, and gargantuan entourages from both sides. But despite the ridiculousness of the situation, Mayweather vs Pacquiao is arguably the biggest sporting event in a generation, and should be cherished by fight fans and casuals alike.
Big fights stick in the memory like no other sporting occasion – people still talk about the likes of Louis/Schmeling, Ali/Frazier and Hagler/Hearns.
Whilst the occasion should be great, the fight could go either way. Pacquiao is no longer the buzz-saw of a few years ago, when he cut through the likes of Hatton, Cotto and Margerito with stunning speed, angles and power. Mayweather also isn’t the fighter who KO’d Hatton and gave Manuel Marquez the run around, although he still retains the unbelievable ring IQ that has carried him to the top of the sport.
Many believe the mauling that Maidiana gave Mayweather in the open rounds of their first fight was indicative of slipping skills, but Maidiana is an awkward customer who is hard for anyone to look good against.
My prediction is a disputed Mayweather win, and a rematch later in the year. I believe Pacquiao will roll back the years and be going for a knockout, but the naturally bigger size and defensive prowess of Mayweather will prevail.
Whilst there is excitement and relief that Pacquiao and Mayweather will meet, it is undoubtedly the start of their era coming to an end. For somebody like myself, in my early 20’s, who grew up with the likes of Barerra, Morales, Hamed, Benn, Eubank, Corralles, Gatti, Ward etc, there is a sense of sadness.
Where boxing goes after these two box officer magnets is anyone’s guess. Gennady Golovkin, Deontay Wilder, Saul Alverez, Keith Thurman, perhaps even our own Amir Khan and Kell Brook, are all staking a claim to be the next big thing in the sport.
But boxing always finds a way to survive. Earlier this month, Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse, two of the biggest hitters at light-welterweight, met in upstate New York. There was no title on the line, just two tough, competitive fighting machines who wanted to know who was better. Provodnikov ended up cut badly on the forehead, and took some serious punishment from the ultimately classier Matthysse, yet the two embraced when the final bell sounded. With practitioners like those two, the sport will always attract spectators wanting to see bravery, aggression and above all respect between athletes.