Remembering #MayPac

Five years ago today one of the most eagerly anticipated matches in the long history of professional prizefighting, Mayweather vs Pacquiao, went down in Vegas and our own Rafael Garcia was one of millions who gave it his full attention. With all pro sports, including boxing, shut down for the time being due to the deadly corona virus, we’ve decided to revisit some of our past feature articles. To mark the #MayPac anniversary, here are Garcia’s reflections on a “superfight” that left everyone feeling like they were on the bad end of a swindle: lighter in the wallet and with little to show for it. To wit, the article’s original title was “We Waited Five Long Years For That?” Check it out: 

Mayweather vs Pacquiao

The MGM Grand Garden Arena was filled with celebrities who paid exorbitant prices–thousands of dollars for a nosebleed seat–to witness the so-called Fight of the Century. Jay-Z and Beyonce were there, as were Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, P. Diddy, Robert de Niro, Michael Jordan, Paris Hilton, “Magic” Johnson, and countless more A-listers. All of them, exhorted by their respective PR agents, showed their faces in Vegas and smiled to the camera so people watching from home could say, “I saw them there!”

Casinos and bars up and down The Las Vegas Strip filled up with weekend warriors spending hundreds of dollars on cover charges and bottle service just to see the fight via closed circuit television. Eating and drinking their way through an underwhelming and completely unnecessary undercard, but happy in the knowledge they were part, in a way, of the biggest boxing contest we’ve seen this century, they duly emptied their wallets just so they could later say, “I was there!”

Viewers all over the world settled in front of their televisions or computer screens to take part in the same experience. Those in rich countries had to fork over serious dollars to purchase the pay-per-view, but observers in choice locations like Mexico and the Philippines watched for free. Millions throughout the globe, some waking up at ungodly hours to do so, would all become part of this communal sports experience. Mayweather vs Pacquiao was as huge a fight as this generation had ever seen, and if Vegas was its host, the world was its oyster. Everyone tuned in so they could say, “I saw it!”

Mayweather vs Pacquiao

And in the end, most were left wondering why they bothered. Diminished versions of two of the top prizefighters of our era met inside the roped square, and while so many expected fireworks and drama, in other words, a contest worthy of being labelled “The Fight of the Century”, what they got was yet another tedious, underwhelming Floyd Mayweather fight complete with long stretches of inactivity and zero drama.

Managing distance with a long, whipping jab, Mayweather kept Manny Pacquiao and what remained of his aura of danger at bay, countering with sharp right hands when the Filipino dared to close the distance and generally making things as uninteresting as possible. Always focused, in charge and working to minimize exchanges, Floyd dictated the terms and disabled most of Pacquiao’s weapons, earning a clear unanimous decision that–as far as the mainstream media is concerned–is enough to now label him “the best fighter of his generation.”

But a closer look reveals that what was often said by the naysayers prior to the match turned out to be truer than anyone wanted: simply put, that Mayweather vs Pacquiao was five years too late. After the dreary affair, Pacquiao and his camp disclosed that a shoulder injury had actually caused them to consider postponing the fight before they decided it was better to placate the hurt with painkillers than to upset all involved with a possible cancellation. For his part, Money May admitted to fighting with hurting hands, a condition which has plagued him for years and only gets worse with age.

Mayweather beat Pacquiao

So the so-called Fight of the Century was fought between two athletes approaching middle age, both of them hobbled by injuries that prevented them from performing at their best, and with Pacquiao in particular clearly not the fighter he once was in terms of hand and foot speed. Unable to close the distance on his taller foe, the once-lethal Filipino warrior was reduced to lunging with his straight left, only to be countered every time he did. Even with Mayweather against the ropes, Pacquiao was unable, or unwilling, to unleash his full arsenal, perhaps too aware of Floyd’s underrated power, or perhaps because he had flashbacks of the stunning right-hand with which Marquez sealed their rivalry in 2012.

In the end, only hard core aficionados and the TMT faithful found much to cheer about last night. While the first half of the contest presented a somewhat interesting tactical duel, by the second half Mayweather had identified his winning strategy and then ran with it during the last six rounds. By potshotting, counterpunching, and clinching to disallow Manny from firing back, Mayweather proved his style is as insurmountable as it can be dreadful to watch for a primed and pumped audience looking for some genuine thrills on a Saturday night. High drama and memorable fistic action we did not get, even after waiting and waiting for five long years.

The immediate aftermath suggests the legacy of the fight and its result is inconclusive and, inevitably, anti-climactic. The whole narrative of Mayweather vs Pacquiao was that the Filipino, with his speed and power and mobility, would test Floyd’s defense like no one else had before. That his offensive unpredictability would trouble Mayweather’s usual punch-and-duck maneuvers and his heavy fists would dent his foe’s unreachable chin. But despite Mayweather’s dominance, there’s little doubt the Pacquiao who shared the ring with him was an entirely different version of the one fans first clamored to see Floyd fight six years ago.

May-Pac888

That said, up to the moment Pacquiao climbed into the ring yesterday night he was still regarded as the second best welterweight in the world, and one of the best boxers on earth, pound-for-pound, and Mayweather’s victory deserves credit for taking place over an opponent of that pedigree. However, it’s hard not to conclude that, for all the easiness with which Floyd defeated Manny last night, there must have been a good reason Mayweather didn’t want to face him back in 2010.

Perhaps the most important conclusion to draw from the whole tedious, anti-climactic Mayweather vs Pacquiao affair, is that the bout happening five years too late is yet one more in a long list of TBE misjudgments. If Floyd is so superior to Manny, then why did he not fight him years ago to get full bragging rights? Why the long wait? Money, of the green kind, is certainly part of the answer to that question, but “Money,” of the fighting kind, only has himself to blame for this latest asterisk on his record.

–Rafael Garcia 

13 thoughts on “Remembering #MayPac

  • May 3, 2015 at 1:03 pm
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    Instead of Leonard Duran 1, we got Leonard Duran 3. Two past their prime boxers fighting a dull, tactical affair, with one looking way more of a shadow of his former self than the other.

    To be honest, this entire event was nothing but crude, and both of the involved parties seemed more than happy to cash out with their enormous purses. Many a time you could see the two smiling at each other, and their long embrace at the start of round 12 was pathetic. Pacquiao in particular should have been motivated to go in and knock Floyd out, as that was the only chance he had of winning, he should have been angry, aggressive, and willing to simply let it all hangout and go for broke, what he shouldn’t have been doing is smiling and hugging.

    The fire had long gone for Pacquiao, once he realised that his game plan was flawed, he didn’t seem prepared to take the necessary risks to get in on Floyd. He actually had his biggest successes in the fight when he let his hands go, rather than just pot shotting ones and twos. He should have been letting his hands go and willing to take more punishment in those championship rounds when it was clear he was losing the fight.

    Yes the Marquez KO was a factor, it has made him more tentative against a sharp counterpuncher, but you know, I can’t help but think that when you’re banking $80m for a fight, and are well past your physical prime, with an already glittering HOF career cemented firmly in boxing history, winning this one wasn’t really all that paramount.

    The entire hoopla over this fight over the past 6 years, and the subsequent fight itself delivering a bit of a stinker, has done far more to harm boxing than any good. One things for sure is that I’m glad this is all over.

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  • May 3, 2015 at 1:06 pm
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    What a waste of time ! This fight, soon to be renamed the dullest of the century, makes klitschko (pick either one) look thrilling. UFC promoters are probably celebrating right now : with such displays of boredom, their mixed martial stuff will prosper over boxing’s dead body.

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    • May 4, 2015 at 1:27 pm
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      Not a great night for boxing, there’s no doubt. And that’s not a criticism of Mayweather, though naturally many fight fans would love to see him take more chances offensively. Clearly Pac was not at his best; when’s the last time we saw him so heavy-footed and subdued? Even against Marquez in their third meeting, he showed more movement and willingness to mix it up. For this fight, he appeared to have no clear game plan and was counting on landing one big shot to turn things around.

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  • May 3, 2015 at 2:13 pm
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    “there was a good reason Mayweather didn’t want to fight him back in 2010.”

    I don’t understand what’s being implied here cause you didnt elaborate…
    Do you think the drug allegations against Manny are true?
    or are you saying Floyd was the weaker fighter in 2010?

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    • May 3, 2015 at 3:45 pm
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      Thanks for reading, bell tru.

      From the point of view of Mayweather, given that he dominated Pacquiao so easily last night, then there had to be a very good reason for him to avoid Manny for so long. He either perceived Manny to be more dangerous back in 2010–for whatever reason–or his intuition told him he would make more money by taking that fight later rather than sooner.

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      • May 4, 2015 at 10:31 pm
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        Garcia,

        What you imply is still, clearly an insinuation. Pacquiao clearly scored a majority of his knockouts before he turned pro. Sure, the Marquez fights are where Manny found his glory, studiously improving his footwork against Marquez’s limited movement and I dare say bemoaningly– his methodical counter punching ability, which akin to Mayweather’s are abysmal. Could Floyd have felt Manny was just one-dimensional, trivial? Why suggest that Mayweather delayed it?

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  • May 3, 2015 at 5:02 pm
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    I agree with everything said in the article. Its too bad no one else may see it this way but clearly this fight was 5 years too late and Win or lose in 2010 Pacquiao would have given a better effort.

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  • May 4, 2015 at 3:08 pm
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    Rafael Garcia, are you positive that the older Mayweather wanted to wait 5 years later? is there any proof of that?

    Why don’t you think it was Manny who was avoiding the best counter puncher in history? everyone knows that Manny’s weakness are counter punchers

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    • May 4, 2015 at 3:25 pm
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      There’s no such thing as “proof”. That’s because it’s even harder to get straight answers from Floyd than it is to land a flush shot on him. However, in the build up to MayPac he did say something to the tune of “This fight happened because of me.” That implies he always had the power to make the fight happen.

      Floyd’s style and talent was always going to trouble Pacquiao, no matter when they fought. While I’m not saying Pacquiao would’ve defeated Mayweather if they had fought five years ago, it’s not hard to imagine him posting a better effort when he was younger, faster, and didn’t have the Marquez KO loss wandering around in the back of his head.

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  • May 3, 2020 at 8:17 am
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    I watched this garbage 5 years ago with friends. $100 (most PPV fights were $65 back then for hi def) AND they delayed the start until midnight to get more PPV buys. Undercard stunk too. Here’s the bottom line – Mayweather rarely took any chances in his career. That’s why he didn’t fight Paul Williams and Antonio Margarito. That’s why he fought a 39 year old Mosely and not a younger version. And that’s why he didn’t fight the 2010 version of Pacman. He didn’t want to take the chance and really prove himself. Greats like Robinson and Duran and Hagler were true competitors and wanted to prove themselves. Floyd didn’t.

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  • May 3, 2020 at 4:00 pm
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    Looking back,I am so glad I did not watch this farce and to this day I still haven’t. And never will. Thanks to Rafael for suffering through it.

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  • May 13, 2020 at 4:45 am
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    Wasn’t it Manny who was afraid of needles? Seems like everybody forgot this.

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    • August 21, 2021 at 2:35 pm
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      Wasn’t it Floyd that took an illegal iv injection before fighting? Seems you forgot about that

      Reply

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