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The Great Boxing Debate.

Reported by Matthew Thomas.

Was it worth all the hype? Has the most talked about fight of recent times only further distanced a dying sport from the general public’s consciousness?

On Sunday night, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, 16,000 people, along with millions around the world witnessed greatness; Greatness in the form of the single, largest business deal in modern sporting history. When we consider the enormity of the figures, media coverage and general frenzy surrounding the build-up, many sports fans have been left largely disappointed in its wake. The numbers involved are simply mind-boggling. Floyd Mayweather Junior and Manny Pacquiao pocketed around $200 million dollars in a 60/40 split in favour of the winner, the GDP of a small nation. The huge finances involved have been largely subsidized by the US pay per view tv sales which far surpassed the 2.4million sold for Mayweather’s 2007 fight with Oscar De la Hoya. Despite this the viewing figures in the States, these hardly compare to the 18 million who watched Mike Tyson defeat Trevor Berbick in 1986 for the heavyweight title. Now that boxing is almost extinct from terrestrial television can the sport continue to retain its popularity in the aftermath of ManPac vs Money?

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The fight , dubbed ‘the fight five years in the making’ , despite its obvious success for journalist and promoters, and of course, Mayweather, was in fact most probably five years too late.

An aging (and possibly injured) King of the Philippines lacked his usual incisive movement and ferocious punching intensity. Manny at his very best may well have represented a far greater challenge to the almost impregnable Mayweather defences. As many experts had predicted, once the undefeated WBO & WBA welterweight champion had time to assess his opponent’s tactics and scope of reach he began to counter with his usual accuracy. Round by round Pacquiao looked stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. His reach deficit was forcing him to box from range, hardly his strength, and step inside and throw his straight left leaving himself vulnerable to one of the best counter punchers of all time. This coupled with Mayweather’s far superior movement to his left and Manny’s inability to land the right hook to counter his escape route, Floyd slipped out the back door and was able to relieve the pressure on numerous occasions. Some would argue it was superb defence whilst others would choose to label him running from a fight, the jury remains firmly out on social media. Whichever way you look at it, Mayweather was the clear winner.

 

The question is; were many ordinary sports fans expecting a Rocky Balboa style slug-fest with two great gladiators going head to head? In reality fights of this nature are better reserved for the movie theatre. Instead what we witnessed was a superior performer doing “just enough”. The pragmaticMayweather, himself aware of life beyond boxing remains determined not to get hit even at the expense of entertainment. The style and manner of his victory shares an uncanny resemblance to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea who across the Atlantic were busy clinching theEPL crown with a regulation 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. Chelsea in stark contrast to the flair and panache of last year’s champions Manchester City have become the experts of negating the opposition’s attacking weaponry by defending deep, denying space and hitting on the counter attack. Whilst most neutrals would rather travel across London to the Emirates stadium for pure footballing exhibitionistism, boxing meanwhile even in the guile of Mayweather still carries that X-factor. Put two men in the ring on any given day and despite all the expert opinion we never quite know what to expect. As a result, very little can rival the build-up to a big fight night and as many in the sporting world begin to question where the next generation of boxing stars are coming from, for sheer sporting theatre it still remains unparalleled.

 

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