By Michael Rosenthal
Two important things happened in boxing on Saturday. One was slimy, one was wonderful.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s announcement that he would fight Manny Pacquiao a second time was slimy, not because of the matchup but because of the timing. Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin were set to fight later that evening in Las Vegas.
The result of the middleweight title fight – a majority-decision victory for Alvarez – was controversial in some circles but the give-and-take action was wonderful, a classic war between two proud future hall of famers.
Why did Mayweather make the announcement on Saturday? To be a jerk. His obvious aim was to steal the thunder from Alvarez and Golovkin, in part because of his past rivalry with Golden Boy Promotions and in part because he can’t stand it when the spotlight is one someone else.
It would never occur to Mayweather that causing a distraction on the day of an important boxing event could hurt the sport that has made him ridiculously wealthy. Or, more likely, he doesn’t care.
For the record, Pacquiao isn’t without blame. He could be seen in the video in which Mayweather made the announcement. But make no mistake: This was Mayweather’s doing. It was his modus operandi, to undercut a rival’s promotion for his benefit. Those who have followed Mayweather’s career probably shook their heads in disgust but no one was surprised by ‘Money’s’ less-than-respectful actions.
At least two ironies present themselves, though.
One was the quality of the Alvarez-Golovkin rematch, in which the 160-pound rivals packed more drama in 12 fast-paced, brutal rounds than Mayweather produced in all his big fights combined. I always admired Mayweather’s unusual ability – and always will – but he was rarely fun to watch.
Some of those who believed Golovkin did enough to win cried foul afterward, suggesting Triple-G was robbed and that he could never receive a fair decision against Alvarez in Las Vegas.
I scored it 115-113 for Golovkin. I thought he was slightly more dominating in the second half of the fight than Alvarez was in the first. But a close victory for Alvarez – 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114 – was hardly a robbery; like their first meeting, it was a close, difficult-to-score battle between equals.
And while I understand the frustration of those who perceive Las Vegas to be “Canelo’s town,” I hesitate to question the integrity of the three respected judges – Dave Moretti (115-113), Steve Weisfeld (115-113) and Glenn Feldman (114-114). Weisfeld and Feldman aren’t even from Nevada and Moretti already demonstrated his impartiality, scoring the first Alvarez-Golovkin fight for the Kazakhstani (115-113).
The decision was fair and shouldn’t detract from the quality of the fight. I don’t have to tell astute boxing fans that we rarely see fighters of this caliber give fans a compelling, do-or-die war like the one we saw on Saturday.
Oscar De La Hoya, Alvarez’s promoter, released an open letter in the wake of post-fight criticism to defend his fighter and the integrity of judging in Las Vegas. It came off as desperate and only emboldened the critics, who aren’t going to be told what to think.
And it was unnecessary. The fight spoke for itself. It was special.
But I agreed with the last paragraph of De La Hoya’s letter: “While everyone is entitled to his or her opinion (especially in boxing), let’s take a moment to appreciate what Canelo and GGG gave us on Saturday night and work towards doing it more often for the sake of the sport we all love so much.”
Which brings me back to Mayweather, who has come much closer to “compelling” in his over-the-top pre-fight hype than his stellar work in the ring.
Mayweather crowed in the announcement video about what he believes will be another nine-figure payday in the proposed rematch with Pacquiao, meaning he expects to make at least $100 million.
The 2015 Mayweather-Pacquiao drew a record 4.6 million pay-per-view buys even though it came four or five years too late, as Pacquiao had peaked in 2010 or 2011. The result was a lot of people who were disappointed afterward.
Mayweather fought his typical fight, masterfully defusing Pacquiao’s best efforts to mount an offense and returning fire just enough to win a decision. Little action, less drama, a snoozer. Indeed, it was a disaster given the immense pre-fight hype.
It’s no wonder a lot of fans – who forked out as much as $100 for the fight – felt cheated, even foolish, particularly after Pacquiao announced immediately after the fight that he had fought with an injured shoulder.
Are we to expect anything substantially different in a rematch, which reportedly could take place in early December or next year if Mayweather takes a tune-up fight? Common sense says it will be worse than the first edition.
Mayweather is 41 and has fought only once in three years, his farce against mixed martial artist Conor McGregor in August of last year. Pacquiao will be approaching his 40th birthday in early December and certainly is in decline.
I wasn’t the only one to roll my eyes when Pacman’s knockout of the sadly shot Lucas Matthysse was described as a “resurgence.” In fact, it was a fight between a faded star and a helpless victim hired to make the Filipino look good.
The purpose of the second Mayweather-Pacquiao fight isn’t complicated. It’s a means of reaching into your wallet and extracting another $100 for a pathetically weak product that isn’t worth $1 as the fighters and their handlers laugh their way to the bank to collect their unearned windfalls.
Maywether fooled fans twice, in the first Pacquiao fight and the McGregor event. I find it unfathomable that anyone would willingly sacrifice the money and time to witness a third debacle, although I know many masochists will.
Alvarez and Golovkin was a perfect example of a fight that is worthy of our cash and passion. It lived up to the hype and then some, leaving what should be a fond memory in the minds of those who witnessed.
Mayweather-Pacquiao II is the opposite, another disaster waiting to happen. Let’s hope it never happens.
Michael Rosenthal is the most recent winner of the Boxing Writers Association of America’s Nat Fleischer Award for excellence in boxing journalism. He has covered boxing in Los Angeles and beyond for almost three decades.