Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Time’s Perfect Record

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Monday afternoon Manny Pacquiao signed on to face Timothy (Desert Storm) Bradley in a June 9 welterweight title bout, and deal that joins with last week’s pact between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto to give boxing fans a pair of high-profile springtime bouts nobody asked for.

Few observers feel Mayweather will do anything May 5 besides thrash Cotto, who lost to Pacquiao in November 2009.

But at least he’s taking on a bigger fighter, moving up to 154 pounds, facing the WBA light-middleweight champion on his terms and for his title.

After surviving Juan Manuel Marquez in November, Pacquiao enters his second straight fight against a guy moving up in weight, raising serious questions about which man — Pacquiao or Mayweather — is out to slay giants and which one really enjoys picking on smaller guys.

Fight followers and casual sports fans are figuring it out, and as badly as they’d love to see the fight they’re also tiring of never-ending prelude.

When Mayweather signed to fight Cotto and speculation swirled that Pacquiao and 140-pound champ Bradley would square off,  somebody (I wish I could remember who) tweeted that watching these fights would be like seeing the Packers and Ravens in the Superbowl.

It’s more like the Pats and Giants winning their conference titles then postponing the Superbowl because playing an endless string of semifinals against lesser teams generates a ton of money with significantly less risk.

After facing Cotto, Mayweather will spend the summer in Clark County jail, while Top Rank is discussing matching Pacquiao with the winner of a proposed showdown between Marquez and Lamont Peterson. Taken together it means fight fans won’t see the sport’s Superbowl until winter 2013 at the earliest.

But by that point the passage of time and the miles piling up on each fighter’s odometer might have pushed this fight past its stale date.

I don’t mean the spectacle surrounding the bout.

As long as Mayweather and Pacquiao are active interest in seeing them meet will never expire. A fight between them is the biggest event in sports, whether it takes place right on time or when each fighter is well on the wrong side of his prime.  If you don’t believe me, ask yourself if you paid attention when Lennox Lewis fought Mike Tyson in 2002.

Of course you did.

That fight did nearly 2 million pay per view buys even though Lewis was a year away from retiring, and even though Tyson peaked before the collapse of the Soviet Union, bringing little to the fight beyond  a big name and a highlight reel of 15-year-old knockouts.

Put the two biggest names in the sport in opposite corners and the show generates attention and cash no matter how late you stage it.

But delay the matchup too long and the in-ring product suffers.


That’s why the first two bouts between Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran are seared into sports fans’ memories, while their third bout can double as a sleep aid.

It’s why the Roy Jones-Bernard Hopkins rematch was so sloppy I demanded my money back — and I watched it for free online.

And it’s why a Mayweather-Cotto showdown once made hardcore fans salivate but now just makes them shrug. It’s a significantly bigger event now that Cotto is well-known and Mayweather is mainstream famous.  But the matchup was much more interesting when it was first discussed in 2005, when both men had undefeated records and bulletproof confidence.

Seven years later Mayweather remains near the top of his game, while we’re still not sure if Cotto will ever heal from the beating Antonio Margarito and his plaster gloves laid on him in 2008.

And two-plus years into the Pacquiao-Mayweather mating dance you have to wonder how time will diminish each man’s skills by the time they overcome their cumbersome egos and agree to the fight.

By then Mayweather will probably be 36, which was early adolescence for Archie Moore but is geriatric for a welterweight. And Pacquiao will be 34, an age when even the fastest fighters slow a step.

At this point we’re past the idea of a Mayweather-Pacquiao matchup determining which of the men fights better. Instead the fight, if it happens, will merely measure which ages better, and that’s a completely different contest.

A fighter’s career trajectory isn’t too different than a 100-metre dash, and the late-race surges that win medals are actually optical illusions. Elite sprinters can hold their top speed for about 20 metres in the middle of the race, but after about 65 metres they all start to slow down. The guy who looks like he’s shifting gears to pull away from the field is really just the guy who decelerates the least.

And past a certain age no fighter improves. He can only hope to slow the erosion of his skills.

If that immutable law applied to Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali, it applies to Pacquiao too.

And Mayweather?

Yes, he’s undefeated.

But so is time.

Follow Morgan Campbell on Twitter

9 Responses to “Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Time’s Perfect Record”
  1. Ivan Montiel says:

    As always very well put Campbell yet bad news from Pacquiao.

    Pacquiao needs to stop this BS enough with ducking the best out there!

    Pacquiao should have accepted Mayweather’s offer if not fought Marquez again.

    Instead Pacquiao is hoping Floyd and DINAMITA to lose if not at least get worn out to then step into the ring against them.

    One thing I know for sure is MONEY won’t lose to Cotto. Marquez also has a great chance at beating Peterson.

    I sure hope Bradley shocks the world of boxing!

  2. Yeah if Bradley beats Cotto every one will have gotten what they deserve. This is getting beyond ridiculous. Fans deserve better, even if these guys don’t want to provide it. Let’s find a quality opponent for Gamboa, let’s hope Ward’s broken hand heals and he can take on Bute, and let’s keep this sport moving forward…

    • Ivan Montiel says:

      I say let it be GAMBOA versus The Filipino Flash next! I’d also love to see Chavez Jr versus MARAVILLA! WV2 versus Juanma would also be interesting just imagine two of Puerto Rico’s current top fighters going mano a mano!

  3. Man great point about Tyson/Louis and the difference between hype/media attention and actual fight fan speculation. Cotto is definitely a question mark since he took the beating from Margarito. I think Cotto-Margarito II is evidence enough to show that Margarito cheated in their first fight because Cotto didn’t do much different and his face didn’t cave in before round 8, and Margarito was bruised and out-classed. The Cotto fight is a more legitimate fight for Mayweather because Pacquiao made Cotto drain himself like he did with so many other fighters. Whether it’s now or next year or the year after, I think Mayweather will win solidly and even if it is next year I think the fans will never see the epic clash of athletic titans that they’ve clamored for all these years. I don’t think either fighter is ducking the other at this point. Mayweather’s offer probably was unreasonable and Arum certainly didn’t want the fight to happen, why both to point the finger anymore?

    • exactly. Back when everybody was blaming floyd for not making the fight, i said there was plenty of blame to go around. Now that the pendulum has swung the other way, my answer is the same. I and I agree with you that this Cotto is a tougher challenge than the catchweight Cotto pacquaio faced in 2009. I think it’s a competitive fight for about 3.5 rounds before Mayweather starts pulling away…. thanks for your comment. I’ll make sure to check out your blog!

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