By Cliff Rold
Being it’s closing in on the Christmas season, let’s pretend fight fans have been more nice than naughty. Twitter timelines may indicate otherwise, but like kids waiting for Santa, impatience can be well earned.
For five years, there has been one capital “S” superfight. It’s past time to get it. Jerry Jones is back talking Cowboy Stadium. Bob Arum is talking about his buddy Les Moonves. Stephen Espinoza of Showtime seems relatively muted.
And how many fools would pay to see Manny Pacquiao fight someone like Jessie Vargas? Arum bandied that around some more after the fight.
That idea can rot in hell.
Give us Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather.
Let’s go the report card.
Pre-Fight: Speed – Pacquiao A-; Algieri B+/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Power – Pacquiao A; Algieri C+/Post: A; C-
Pre-Fight: Defense – Pacquiao B; Algieri B-/Post: Same
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Pacquiao A; Algieri B+/Post: A; B-
When a guy who suffered a violent knockout three fights past just starts letting the other guy have his best shot, one knows that the drama is gone. After defending well early against the Algieri right hand, Pacquiao eventually just gave him the shot and ploughed forward.
Algieri couldn’t budge him. Algieri’s chances were as slim as assumed. One fight after earning the chance of a lifetime with a questionable decision over Ruslan Provodkinov, Algieri saw first hand what the levels to the boxing game really are. Provodnikov is good.
Pacquiao is one of the greatest ever to lace them up. Even at 35, he’s still not far enough from prime to lose to someone at the level of Algieri. Algieri, whose best shot was to keep his hands moving, dropped the volume of his offense and survived. Survival, on a $70-plus pay-per-view, isn’t enough.
Algieri will still have fights he can win. He was at least tough enough to finish and got up from a whale of a shot in the ninth. He sometimes made Pacquiao miss badly. He’ll be cycled back into the mix somewhere. This cynical promotion, marketed on ‘college’ and ‘hotel room’ locations didn’t win him many fans among hardcore heads.
Pacquiao scored six official knockdowns, a couple of them spotty, to remind everyone he can still crack. He seemed almost to be going through the motions as the fight wore on, doing little to set up his shots and abandoning the body. He was trying for the highlight reel.
After the fight, he said all the right things. He’s looking for the missing highlight fight in his career. He says he wants Mayweather.
Mayweather said he’s open to it after Maidana.
It is at least a different tone than we’ve heard the last couple years. With Miguel Cotto-Saul Alvarez possible, it’s the one fight in 2015 that could dwarf it.
It all feels like déjà vu, with the Moonves/CBS wrinkle this time that wasn’t there when the fight fell apart in early 2010. If they can make it, and make it in Cowboys Stadium, they should. It’s been an embarrassment to the sport that this fight hasn’t happened.
Sure, big ones have been missed before. Lennox Lewis-Riddick Bowe is always an easy one that comes to mind. It’s never been like this. Imagine if Leonard-Hearns was nearly signed in 1981 and was still imaginary in 1986? What if Ali returned in 1970 and hadn’t fought Frazier by the time of the “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975?
Boxing is a business. It is also a sport. A sport that can’t make its Super Bowl is a joke.
Pacquiao-Vargas or Mayweather versus the winner of Devon Alexander-Amir Khan, with appetites being whetted for the main course again, would be a punch line.
No more punch lines.
It’s time for the punches to fly.
Report Card Picks 2014: 55-23 (Includes picks at RingTV.com for Cleverly-Bellew and Vargas-DeMarco)
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]