By Thomas Hauser
Walt Disney captured the imagination of children everywhere with Disneyland. Harry Potter theme parks have begun to dot the globe. Fantasy destinations such as Neverland (created by J. M. Barrie as the home of Peter Pan) have long occupied a niche in the public consciousness.
With that in mind, welcome to Planet Floyd; a land that combines reality with make believe, where sense has become nonsense, where worth is measured in terms of money rather than good deeds, dignity, or respect.
This is the first of a four-part series on the May 2 encounter between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. It deals primarily with the scene in Las Vegas in the days leading up to the fight and the fight itself.
Part Two will examine the controversy surrounding the torn rotator cuff that Pacquiao suffered several weeks before the fight and the role played by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and USADA in dealing with it.
Part Three will explore the interaction between the promotion and the media.
Part Four will consider the fight in the context of Al Haymon’s efforts to establish a dominant position in boxing.
In 2014, scientists identified what they called “the largest living organism on Earth” – a parasitic fungus growing in the northeast quadrant of Oregon that measures 2.4 miles across. The fungus sprouts Armillaria mushrooms, while decaying and killing the root systems of trees that stand in its path.
That was Mayweather-Pacquiao. If you prefer a different analogy, one might liken the promotion to a giant steamroller crushing everything before it.
Still not satisfied? How about referencing Jimmy Cannon, who wrote long ago that boxing is the red light district of profesional sports.
There were times when Mayweather-Pacquiao seemed like a high-class bordello operated by Mayweather Promotions, Top Rank, and the rest of the Las Vegas establishment. Floyd and Manny were the call girls. The media was pimping for tips. Ticketholders and PPV-buyers were the Johns.
“I love you, baby. That feels so good. I’m doing this just for you, baby, because you want it.”
The fight was all about money. But the promotion told us that from the start, didn’t it? The publicity for Mayweather-Pacquiao was never about what a great fight it would be as much as it was about how much money it would generate.
For over a hundred years, boxing helped drive communications technology and what is now know as “media.” The sport was a significant factor in generating newspaper and magazine sales in the 1800s and the sale of radios and televisions in the succeeding century. It was also on the cutting edge of closed-circuit and pay-per-view technology.
Now communications technology in the form of social media is playing a significant role in driving boxing. Social media has transformed what we understand a major event to be. The economics of Mayweather-Pacquiao were propelled by social media, which turned the event into an exercise in wish fulfillment with all the puffery and spin control of a national political campaign.
Let’s start by summarizing some often cited numbers.
The previous record live gate for a fight was the $20,003,150 engendered by Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez on September 14, 2013. Initially, it was announced that tickets for Mayweather-Pacquiao were priced as follows: $10,000 (1,100 tickets), $7,500 (2,500 tix), $5,000 (2,500 tix), $3,500 (4,000 tix), $2,500 (2,500 tix), and $1,500 (2,500 tix). That would have come to a live gate of $66,250,000 before ticket scalping. Then there was a reallocation of tickets within categories. Ultimately, a live gate of $72,198,500 was reported to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Tecate bid an unprecedented $5.6 million to become the lead sponsor. Total sponsorship revenue was reported as $13,200,000. There were record-breaking inrternational television rights sales in the neighborhood of $40,000,000.
And most significantly, there was pay-per-view. The previous domestic-pay-per-view-buys record for a fight was 2.5 million, established when Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. Mayweather-Alvarez held the record for PPV receipts with $152 million.
Mayweather-Pacquiao shattered these numbers by a wide margin. Best estimates at present are that it engendered well over 4,000,000 buys. Moreover, the PPV price was set at $99.95 ($89.95 for those who were willing to forego high definition). That’s $25 more than the previous high charged for Mayweather-Alvarez.
The typical split between the content provider of a pay-per-view fight card and the entities disseminating the telecast (multi-system cable operators, DIRECTV, and others) is approximately fifty-fifty. Here, the split was roughly sixty-forty in favor of the promotion.
Once expenses are paid, the remaining revenue will be divided sixty percent to Team Mayweather and forty percent to Pacquiao and Top Rank. Based on these numbers, Mayweather could earn in the neighborhood of $200 million. Putting that amount in perspective, Forbes reported that the previous record for earnings by an athlete (including endorsements) in a single year adjusted-for-inflation was the $125 million that Tiger Woods earned in 2008.
Don King once declared, “A good hustler knows that he can't hustle by himself. He needs someone working with him.”
The powers that be behind Mayweather-Pacquiao formed alliances that maximized their return.
Only a handful of tickets were made available to the general public. The rest were distributed 30 percent to Al Haymon and Mayweather Promotions; 30 percent to Top Rank and Manny Pacquiao, and 40 percent to the MGM Grand.
The MGM earmarked most of its tickets for high-rollers. But Bob Arum later alleged that the company had a side deal with Haymon that enabled the entrepreneur to purchase roughly 2,000 tickets from the MGM’s allotment at face value.
Haymon and Top Rank are believed to have made a substantial profit by selling many of their tickets to brokers and others on the secondary market.
The MGM Grand’s contract with the promotion blocked non-MGM properties on the Las Vegas strip from showing the fight in ballrooms, bars, and even in guest rooms on pay-per-view. That limited viewing to various MGM Resorts properties. After the bout, MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren told Bloomberg that MGM had sold 46,000 tickets to watch the fight on closed-circuit, generating $9,000,000. The “drop” at the casinos before and after the telecast was considerably more.
Numerous press releases regarding the live gate and other income streams were issued by the promotion. There was no announcement regarding how large the site fee was, giving rise to the belief in some circles that a portion of it might have been subject to particularly creative deal-making.
On April 16, it was announced that, as a form of crowd control, there would be a ten-dollar admission charge and assigned seats for members of the public who attended the weigh-in (which would be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena). All proceeds were to be donated to the Susan B. Komen For the Cure Foundation and Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Less than forty-eight hours after going on sale, tickets for the weigh-in sold out. Thereafter, they were resold for as much as $150 a seat, giving rise to the question of who was pocketing the difference.
No stone was left unturned in the pursuit of profit. After weighing in on Friday, Manny Pacquiao (who was being nicely compensated by Butterfinger) ate a Butterfinger peanut butter cup on stage.
Room rates for five-star hotels on the nights of May 1 and 2 were running $700 above the average Friday and Saturday-night rates.
Imagine a smile on a serpent’s face. That’s what some Mayweather-Pacquiao insiders looked like during fight week. The event was boxing’s ultimate cash machine.
ESPN.com senior writer Tim McKeown described the proceedings as a “weeklong descent into absurdity.” Reni Valenzuela wrote on Philboxing.com (a leading boxing portal in the Philippines), “Mayweather-Pacquiao is exclusive for elite millionaires. The fans are left out or set to become bait for sharks that lurk in shallow waters. The boxing contest is not about boxing anymore, much less about the fans.”
It would have been better for boxing if the fight had been contested in Cowboys Stadium with 100,000 fans and longtime members of the boxing media (many of whom were shut out by the promotion) able to attend. But the prevailing ethos was to bleed every dollar out of the promotion. If smoking ruins were left behind, so be it.
The fight captured the attention of mainstream media worldwide. Studios A and B at the MGM Grand (which normally serve as the “media center” for big fights) were rechristened the “broadcast center” and reserved for dozens of television and radio networks conducting a week-long vigil. Just outside the hotel, a huge tent was set up for print and Internet media.
The restrooms directly adjacent to the broadcast center were closed during fight week as a security precaution.
The media tent was beset by an infestation of moths, which gave rise to the question of whether locusts, frogs, lice, and other Biblical afflictions might follow.
Elsewhere in the hotel, a huge display case (thirty feet long and twelve feet high) in the MGM Grand lobby showcased twelve of Mayweather’s championship belts in addition to the gloves, robes, and shoes that Floyd had worn in seven of his fights.
There were so many turf wars (Top Rank vs Mayweather Promotions and HBO vs. Showtime, to name two) that one half-expected a flurry of drive-by shootings to break out.
Bob Arum (Pacquiao’s promoter) has been down the super-fight road many times. In order to finalize Mayweather-Pacquiao, Arum had made some remarkable concessions; most notably (1) if there were a dispute between Top Rank and Mayweather Promotions, the issue would be resolved by CBS Corporation CEO Les Moonves (CBS is Showtime’s parent company), and (2) the Mayweather side of the promotion was given complete control over contract negotiations with the MGM Grand.
By April 23, Arum was so disgruntled that he announced Pacquiao would not participate in the “grand arrival” at the MGM Grand (which traditionally takes place on the Tuesday of fight week) and would enter the hotel only for the final pre-fight press conference, weigh-in, and the fight itself.
"We're not going to go there any more than we have to,” Arum told the media. “We know the way they've been acting, and we're not welcome.”
When Arum did enter the MGM Grand for fight-related events, he passed through the complex like a head of state being escorted through hostile territory.
“I’m eighty-three years old,” Arum said on Wednesday afternoon in the media tent. “And this has been the most hellish time of my professional career.”
Thereafter, Arum added that he had gotten along reasonably well with Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe. But he had less than kind words for Mayweather advisor Al Haymon, who he called “a truly evil man.” And he referenced Showtime boxing tsar Stephen Espinoza as “a contrary son-of-a-bitch who’s impossible to work with” before declaring “I don’t like him.”
Presumably, those sentiments were returned in kind.
Meanwhile, Showtime (Mayweather’s network) and HBO (which has a contract with Pacquiao) were also at odds. Showtime was the lead producer on what was to be a joint telecast. As fight week progressed, HBO personnel complained of not being informed when schedules changed. Worse, the commentating team still hadn’t been finalized, although it was known that Jim Lampley (HBO) would handle blow-by-blow duties with Al Bernstein (Showtime) at his side. The allocation of other on-air talent wasn’t finalized until late Thursday night. Paulie Malignaggi (Showtime) learned that he would be on the fight-night host desk with James Brown (Showtime) and Lennox Lewis (HBO) when he read a tweet posted by Chris Mannix of SI.com on Friday morning.
The promotion had a toxic aura. But instead of poison wafting through the air, the ka-ching of cash registers sounded and the silent swipe of credit cards whizzed by.
There were the usual big-fight rituals, although on a larger scale. Mayweather’s ‘grand arrival” took place in the MGM Grand Garden Arena insead of the hotel lobby and was heralded by the Southern University marching band. The final pre-fight press conference was held in the KA Theatre rather than the David Copperfield Theatre to accommodate the media horde.
A who’s-who of boxing royalty was on hand to promote the event. Evander Holyfield, Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, Julio Cesar Chavez, and Juan Manuel Marquez were in the broadcast center at various times.
As the week progressed, the MGM Grand was overrun by fans aggressively seeking photos with and autographs from virtually anyone who was recognizable. Jim Lampley needed assistence from hotel security after the weigh-in to get to his room.
“I’ve been a prisoner in my room since I got here,” Lamply said on Saturday morning. “I’ve now ordered dinner from room service three nights in a row.”
There wasn’t a lot of passion among boxing insiders in the media tent and broadcast center. Many seasoned observers were there simply because it was their job. The fight didn’t inspire the same energy level among them that previous super-fights such as Lennox Lewis vs. Mike Tyson and the classic encounters between Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, and Roberto Duran had.
First-timers who had never been to a fight before and might never go again seemed to be enjoying it all.
Throughout fight week (as it had earlier in the promotion), Team Mayweather called most of the shots.
“This fight happened because of me,” Floyd had said at the March 11 kick-off press conference. “We had to chose an opponent for May 2nd, and I chose Pacquiao.”
The fight posters and other promotional material were designed so that the eye was drawn to Mayweather’s name and image before Pacquiao’s. Manny himself acknowledge that he was the “B-side” of the promotion. “It’s better to do that,” he explained, “or there is no fight.”
Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, countered with the thought that, in this instance, “A” stood for “asshole.” But Team Mayweather was in charge, and everyone knew it.
Mayweather’s appeal is a stick in the eye to the establishment. It’s as if he’s saying, “I do what I want. I treat people, including women, the way I want. If you don’t like watching me count my money, I don’t give a f---.”
This morality play has been coupled with incessant bragging about being “TBE” (the best ever) and pronouncements like, “God only made one thing perfect: my boxing record."
On Monday of fight week, Mike Tyson appeared in the media center and said of Mayweather, “This guy is going around saying he’s better than Ali. I don’t want to hear that s---.”
“When Mike Tyson is the voice of reason in a room,” one boxing scribe noted, “the room has a problem.”
Meanwhile, for much of the week, Pacquiao seemed intent on bearing witness to the glory of God.
At a sitdown with writers just prior to Wednesday’s final pre-fight press conference, Manny declared, “I cannot imagine that a boy who is sleeping on the streets, starving, looking for food, is where I am today. God raised me up from nothing to where I am today. I want people to know that.”
At the press conference itself, Manny added, “I hope that, after the fight, I can have a conversation with Floyd, sharing my faith in God. There is God, who can raise something from nothing. Jesus is the name of the Lord.”
That message continued during a satellite interview tour on Thursday, when Pacquiao proclaimed, “I am trusting in God for this fight. There is nothing for me to worry about. I have peace of mind. I’m confident. The Lord is with me. I am hoping that, after the fight, I can talk with Floyd about God, and it will bring a change in his life. I want Floyd to know God.”
Fighters who rely on The Almighty to bring them victory don’t necessarily prevail. Pacquiao was trusting in the Lord. Mayweather was trusting in himself.
As fight week progressed, it became clear that the number of pay-per-view buys would be astronomical. But behind the scenes, turmoil reigned. Thursday and Friday were hectic. All the things that had been put off by the promotion for “later” had to be done “now”.
Also, the market for ticket prices and hotel rooms was taking a downward turn.
The handling of tickets had been chaotic. As of April 20 (twelve days before the fight), physical tickets still hadn’t been delivered or formally gone on sale, prompting Bob Arum to declare, “This is not acceptable. This is a worldwide event that the city of Las Vegas is involved in. It's one of the craziest things I've ever seen."
Two days later, there were still no tickets. By the time they were available (on Wednesday evening), reality was setting in.
Many of the early online listings for Mayweather-Pacquiao tickets had carried the feel of shill bids at an auction. But Las Vegas ticket brokers (who are usually pretty savvy) had invested heavily, buying early at premium prices from the promotion. By mid-week, most brokers simply wanted to break even. By Friday, they were trying to cut their losses, and tickets could be bought below face value.
Meanwhile, some would-be customers had cancelled trips to Las Vegas because of delays in the distribution of tickets and the fear that they wouldn’t be able to see the fight live or even on closed-circuit. Hotel rooms at the MGM Grand for Friday and Saturday night were available online for as little as $190 a night (well below the normal weekend price and far below the $1,600-rate that had been quoted during the height of the feeding frenzy).
On Friday afternoon, there was a huge turnout for the weigh-in. The fighters walked to the scales in the manner of fighters going to the ring for a big fight. Mayweather was introduced as “the world’s highest-paid athlete.”
There was a lot of gamesmanship at the Nevada State Athletic Commission rules meeting that followed. The Mayweather camp objected to Pacquiao’s gloves and protective cup, while Team Pacquiao raised questions about Floyd’s gloves.
Mayweather was a 2-to-1 betting favorite, although Bob Arum reminded people that the last time Pacquiao had been an underdog was in 2008 when he destroyed Oscar De La Hoya.
“If you had to design a fighter, a style that could beat Mayweather,” Bruce Trampler (Top Rank’s Hall-of-Fame matchmaker) told the Los Angeles Times, “you’re going to come up with a left-hander who’s good with lateral movement, side to side, shifty, can punch with either hand. That’s not a guarantee that Manny is going to win the fight. But he’s got the best chance of anyone to take away the ‘0’ on Floyd’s record.”
But everyone who follows boxing knew that this wasn’t the Manny Pacquiao who blew away Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto six years ago. One can attribute his decline to age. One can link it to what Manny did, or didn’t, put into his body (just as Mayweather seems to have benefitted from all of the advanced training methods that are at his command).
Also, even under the best of circumstances, Mayweather is a hard mountain for an opponent to climb.
“Floyd may be an ass,” Freddie Roach said. “But he’s still a great fighter.”
Mayweather-Pacquiao was the thirty-first fight that Roach and Pacquiao had prepared for together. Freddie is widely recognized as a great trainer and also a great guy. His heroic battle against the ravages of Parkinsonism remains an inspiration. When asked during fight week about dealing with his condition, Roach responded, “The first thing is to not lay down and die.”
But Roach is a hands-on trainer. And his declining physical condition, which was compounded by back and hip problems, made readying Pacquiao to fight Mayweather a more difficult task.
Meanwhile, Roach’s counterpart in the Mayweather camp was extremely confident. Among the thoughts that Floyd Mayweather Sr offered were:
* “Too many fighters today, especially young ones, aren’t in shape. Or if they are in shape, they think conditioning is more important than technique. Floyd has both.”
* “ Floyd is as well-rounded a fighter as there has ever been. But he’s really still here because of his defense. It’s his great defense that has kept him on top for so long.”
* “Once you get hit like Pacquiao did [by Juan Manuel Marquez] and your ass goes to sleep, it doesn’t take too many more for it to happen again.”
* “Whatever it is will be one-sided. To be honest with you, I don’t think it will be much of a fight.”
Las Vegas has long been considered a terrorist target. It’s on the short list after Washington D.C. and New York. On Friday and Saturday, the National Guard was patrolling McCarren Airport. At the MGM Grand, Department of Homeland Security officials mingled with local police and fire-fighting personnel. Nine explosive-sniffing dogs were in and around the arena.
Many of the people who attended the fight weren’t boxing fans. They were people with money and connections who wanted to be at THE big event.
MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said afterward that the event broke the record for private planes parked at McCarran International Airport. The old record had been 350 private aircraft. After five hundred private planes landed in advance of Mayweather-Pacquiao, officials began diverting new arrivals to North Las Vegas.
A press release from the promotion stated that the celebrities in attendance on fight night included – drum roll, please - Robert DeNiro, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Beyonce, Jay Z, Sean Combs, Sting, Michael Jordan Tom Brady, Magic Johnson, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Ben Affleck, Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Bradley Cooper, Michael J. Fox, Jake Gyllenhaal, Don Cheadle, and Claire Danes. But there were no in-arena introductions.
Nor was there a ten-count for former middleweight great Gene Fullmer, who had died earlier in the week.
The non-televised undercard wasn’t very good. Inside the arena, when the pay-per-view show began at 6:00 PM, it felt like any other big Las Vegas fight. Most of the seats were still empty. The fans in attendance were subdued.
Mayweather-Pacquiao was a chance for boxing to put its best foot forward, impress the largest pay-per-view audience in boxing history, and show the world that there are fighters beyond Floyd and Manny who are worth watching.
But the promotion gave viewers two predictably awful undercard fights.
Vasyl Lomachenko (a 20-to-1 favorite) scored a ninth-round knockout over a not-very-game Gamalier Rodriquez. Then Leo Santa Cruz (a 30-to-1 favorite) whitewashed Jose Cayetano 100-90 on each judge’s scorecard.
That set the stage for the main event, which was a massive disappointment. The crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Pacquiao. But the crowd can’t fight.
There was a noticable size differential between the fighters. Thirty hours after weighing in, Floyd looked like a full-fledged welterweight in the ring with a lightweight.
Brin-Jonathan Butler of SB Nation described what followed as “a game of tag that only accidentally elevated into the realm of a glorified sparring session.”
Prior to the bout, there had been a record number of Internet “hits.” In the ring, the hits that mattered most were few and far between. According to CompuBox, Mayweather landed eight punches in round one and Pacquiao landed three. By round twelve, things had improved to the point where Mayweather landed eight punches and Pacquiao landed four. The rounds in between weren’t much better.
For most of the fight, Mayweather dictated the distance between the participants with his footwork, jab, and lead righthands. Pacquiao had trouble getting inside. When he did, more often than not, Floyd tied him up.
Mayweather fought a safety-first fight. Also, safety-second and safety-third. Good defense is admirable. Freddie Roach has said, “I don’t know anyone who gets hit on purpose.” But “hit and don’t get hit” doesn’t mean “run and be boring.”
Pacquiao was strangely passive throughout the bout and unable to score effectively even when Mayweather backed into a corner. If it had been an undercard bout instead of “Mayweather-Pacquiao,” viewers at home would have seen it as an ideal time for a bathroom break. If it had been two guys on ESPN, channel surfers would have watched for a minute and resumed surfing.
Adam Berlin summed up the end of the contest as follows: “Most nauseating was how round twelve began. Instead of the customary glove-touching, these two supposed warriors went one step further. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao embraced. Their slow dance in the middle of the ring wasn’t one of fatigue and pain and spirit spent. It was a money dance. Some calculations put the pay-out per second of fight time at 130K. This seven-second embrace, worth about a million bucks, was, like too many greed-inspired ventures, built on the backs of suckers. These precious seconds should have been filled with boxing action. That’s what the ringside crowd had paid exorbitant prices to see. That’s what viewers at home who’d shelled out ridiculous pay-per-view dollars had paid to see. Round twelve was a farce. For all the fighting Mayweather and Pacquiao did in the twelfth, they should have just been honest. The two boxers-turned-businessmen should have sat down on a couple of deck chairs. They should have lit up a couple of expensive cigars. They should have cracked open a bottle of Glenmorangie, aged 25 years. They should have touched glasses. And then, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao should have leaned back and looked into the horizon, not a gold horizon of boxing glory but a green horizon of capitalist greed. The round bell wasn’t a call to arms. It was Wall Street’s 9:30 AM signal that the market was open for business.”
The fighters were paid well over a million dollars for each punch landed.
Hampered by what we now know was a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder (more on that in Part Two of this series), Pacquiao was able to land only eighteen jabs during the entire fight. That comes to an average of 1.5 jabs per round.
The judges favored Mayweather by a 118-110, 116-112, 116-112 margin.
Fans often cry “robbery” after a bad decision. They were crying it after Mayweather-Pacquiao because they felt ripped off. This was boxing’s ultimate money grab. It makes what happened in Shelby, Montana, when Jack Dempsey fought Tommy Gibbons in 1923 look like a charity show.
Mayweather has said that he will vacate his titles this month and retire after having one more fight in September. Vacating the titles is a possibility. It would save money on sanctioning fees. And right now, Floyd is bigger than the belts.
As for retiring in September, Mayweather is now 48-and-0. Anyone who believes that he won’t go for #50 if the opportunity presents itself is delusional. The money will be one incentive. The allure of history will be another. 50-and-0 would add a debating point to Floyd’s claim that he’s “TBE.”
Mayweather is a great fighter. He’s not “the best ever.” Not even at welterweight.
Two years ago, this writer convened a panel of twenty-eight trainers, matchmakers, historians, and media experts to rank the greatest welterweights of the modern era. Eight fighters were matched in a fantasy round-robin tournament. The panelists were asked to assume for each hypothetical fight that both fighters were at the point in their respective careers when they were still able to make 147 pounds and were capable of duplicating their best 147-pound performance. If each of the eight fighters had fought the other seven, there would have been 28 fights. And there were 28 panelists. Thus, 784 fights were entered in the data base.
Sugar Ray Robinson was the runaway choice for #1. Ray Leonard separated himself from the pack in the #2 slot. Mayweather finished a respectable fifth behind Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran.
What about lightweight?
In a similar exercise conducted last year, Duran finished first, Pernell Whitaker second, and Mayweather third.
So to repeat: Mayweather is a great fighter. But what does it say about Floyd that he was unable to knock out a one-armed fighter on May 2 or even put Pacquiao in serious trouble?
Throughout the promotion of Mayweather-Pacquiao, boxing fans were told that it was a one-of-a-kind event. The impulse now is to say, “That’s good.” But apart from to its economic success, the fight was a one-of-a-kind event in another way not intended by the promotion. It was oddly detached from the rest of boxing. This wasn’t a fight like Leonard-Hearns or Hearns-Hagler, which seemed an organic part of boxing. Mayweather-Pacquiao was never going to take the sport to a new level. It was a one-off.
Boxing’s biggest events engender the most talk in advance. But the best fights are ones that people talk about with reverence afterward. On the phone, around water-coolers at work on Monday morning, and long after when the narrative has become a treasured part of boxing history.
Mayweather-Pacquiao fell woefully short of that standard. As Bart Barry wrote, “No Mayweather victory is a victory for anyone but Mayweather. Figures like that do not live on as legends. They are either forgotten in time or become cautionary tales.”
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at [email protected] . His most recent book (Thomas Hauser on Boxing) was published by the University of Arkansas Press.