Floydman v/s Pacman – Biggest hype of the century

Yesterday, boxing witnessed its most high profile, hyped duel since Lennox Lewis v/s Mike Tyson in 2002.  Hardcore fans of boxing may have own their views on the subject, but I am talking about the kind of match that generates enough buzz to pull in viewers who are not necessarily dedicated fans of boxing…someone like me, basically.  The last time there was so much anticipation about a boxing clash was indeed the aforesaid Lewis-Tyson clash.  Then, whether Floyd Mayweather v/s Manny Pacquiao, billed as the fight of the century managed to entertain as much as the only other clash from this century that generated comparable buzz is highly debatable.

Lewis v/s Tyson was one sided and got over quickly (in comparison to Floyd v/s Manny).  It took Lewis until the eighth round to finally deliver the knockout blow and bring the proceedings to an official conclusion but the result was ‘NID’ as they say.  It became clear pretty early on that Tyson would not be able to knock out Lewis and therefore Lewis would either win on points or simply wear him down and get him later in the match (which is what he did).

Nevertheless, what it did manage to do was entertain.  At least early on, when Tyson, albeit a shadow of the boxer he once was, charged towards Lewis who utilised great defence to come out of these early assaults unscathed.  There was drama at least for a while before the match eventually petered out to a somewhat anti climactic end.  And for sure, the fighting was often ferocious.

Yesterday’s match, by contrast, often appeared to feature a pair of reluctant warriors circling around desperate to AVOID the punch.  They weren’t even hopping around, Muhammad Ali-esque, in their attempts to dodge each other.  Just circling around slowly, wielding the threat of a punch and only sporadically acting on the threat.  And they were welterweights.

Yup, welterweights.  When I learnt that the fight of the century was to be fought between welterweights, I laughed.  Surely, this wouldn’t be the case if heavyweight boxing still attracted an audience…well, an audience of a comparable magnitude.  I am not judging.  It is not my case that welterweights aren’t worth anybody’s time.  But going all the way back to the days of Ali, it’s the classic heavyweight contests that captured the public’s imagination.  It suggested, as some columnists pointed out, a desperation to manufacture a bout that the public might want to see built up by humongous amounts of hype so that all parties concerned (except the audience, that is) could laugh all the way to the bank.

Anyway, so it took around round 4 for Manny to seemingly realise that he was the challenger and he would have to take the fight to Floyd.  Else, Floyd would happily bide his time ducking around and not fighting and collect the title.  Later on, Manny ranted that Floyd hardly punched at all.  That’s right, and nobody stopped Manny from providing the offence.  But he missed way too much on his own attempts and a few effective counter-attacks from Floyd appeared to discourage him.  So much so that the final round was utterly devoid of drama and frankly quite boring as both fighters appeared to have decided to settle for a points verdict.

I don’t wanna be a killjoy.  If you liked it, good on you.  If it pulls boxing out of what is arguably a self inflicted rut (with a multitude of associations making it difficult to know who exactly is the world champion), that would be grand.  But if this is the fight of the century, then at least boxing wise ours is an impoverished century compared to the 20th.  What I am going to do may be cliched but here comes the fight of the 20th century:

That’s what boxing is all about.  Yesterday, after the match, my father and I were watching this just for kicks and he said Ali and Frazier fought for the public and not themselves.  Perhaps, that’s what was most wrong about yesterday’s fight.  A fight where the players look fresh as daisies after 12 rounds cannot have entertained very much.

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