The Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight unfolded pretty much the way Paulie Malignaggi expected.
The Showtime analyst anticipated Mayweather dominating their heavily hyped welterweight title bout because he would dictate distance and thus nullify anything Pacquiao could do to win. Doing that enabled Mayweather to win their 12-round, pay-per-view main event by comfortable margins on all three scorecards (118-110, 116-112, 116-112) in May 2015 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The uneventful nature of their long-discussed showdown, which took place five years ago Saturday, left a lot of consumers disappointed.
“I think the backlash came from a lot of casuals that don’t really understand boxing,” Malignaggi told BoxingScene.com. “But also, the fact that there’s always a good guy-bad guy routine, and Mayweather always plays the bad guy and Pacquiao came in as the good guy. The promotion, even before the fight, was based on Pacquiao being a fan favorite and Mayweather being a bad guy. Mayweather always embraced that bad-guy role, and whenever the bad guy wins there’s gonna be a lot of complaining anyway, especially if the bad guy knows how to win in a way that’s not pleasing to the casual’s eye and to the eye of the fans who wanted the favorite to win.
“It’s not like Mayweather came out, guns blazing, and they went at it, and then he won and made fans out of the people that hated him. I think he probably made them hate him more because he was actually so effective at what he does and made it look so easy that I remember many casual people think that it was almost fake.”
Pacquiao’s claim that a shoulder injury suffered during training camp hurt his performance also infuriated fans who paid an unprecedented $100 to watch Mayweather-Pacquiao on pay-per-view in the United States. That joint venture between HBO and Showtime generated more than $600 million in overall revenue and established a record by producing approximately 4.6 million pay-per-view buys, but it wasn’t a fan-friendly fight.
“I never thought Mayweather and Pacquiao would be that kind of fight,” said Malignaggi, who worked Mayweather-Pacquiao for Showtime and Sky Sports. “It came down to the distance battle and the chess match when you’re trying to assess the gap between two fighters, in closing the gap in the ring. That is a really complicated thing to understand for a lot of people. Basically, that’s the thing that allowed Mayweather to dominate the fight.
“So, if the main asset Mayweather used to dominate the fight is hard to understand for most people, you know, then there’s gonna be a lot of misunderstandings in the way they translate that fight, the way they view that fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.