Korak’s still on the disabled list, but he’s almost ready to resume baseball activities and should be back mid May. In the meantime…
LAS VEGAS, NV – I got sucked in. I had no intention of seeing the Mayweather vs Pacquaio fight, five years later, but on Friday I was caught in a nostalgic mood when a buddy floated the idea of going somewhere to see it, a nearby bar with a $25 cover. I once paid money to see a closed-circuit simulcast at the Boston Garden of the Sugar Ray Leonard-Marvin Hagler fight (the old Garden was packed for their Brockton son Hagler, except for my earnest and oblivious buddy Joey, who was the only one cheering at the end. I thought we’d never make it to the T), and it was one of the best events I’d ever seen and totally worth whatever outrageous 1987-priced ticket I’d bought.
That fight, like this one, was also groaned about being five years too late, between two past-their-time champs who were also 30 and 32 years of age. That’s about where the similarities end, though, with the biggest difference of course being the money. The live gate for the 1987 fight was $7.9 million, and this one was nearly ten times that, and who even cares about the gate when there’s pay-per-view numbers in the hundreds of millions and I used the words “closed circuit” a second ago?
The crowd I saw it with was mostly pro-Pacquiao, perhaps because he trains with Freddie Roach just down Sunset in Hollywood, but clearly he was being played up as the white
guy hat in this story line against the brash trash talker who calls himself “Money.” The pre-fight intro-videos played this out, with Mayweather’s insane mansion and cars on display, followed by Pacquiao praying in his Philippines barrio church. Believe me, while I’m not particularly a fan, I’m not a Mayweather hater. I do not begrudge him his heel turn, his transition into the next Kanye Kardashian (nor the distance he tries to put between himself and those spousal abuse charges). It feels like he realized early on that his dominating technical style is not exactly the stuff that promises Hearns-Hagler, so “Money” was created to sell fights, and sell fights it does, with this as his crowning achievement.
Oh but nothing empties the soul like selling, and perhaps because it took so long in the making, the selling came pouring out of every pixel of the screen for this fight, from Marky Mark pushing some water company on his t-shirt, to poor Freddie Roach looking like he was wearing a jumpsuit of pop-up ads, to Jimmy Lennon Jr. seamlessly working in a plug for the new “Jack” Gyllenhaal boxing movie Southpaw. Even Mayweather was stalked down the runway by the creepy Burger King from commercials that were on the air when this fight should’ve taken place. By the end, how can you not feel like the sopped victim of a consumer-message-driven bukake?
After a good beginning led to an anticlimactic finish, the actual fight never lived up to the magnitude of the “event,” and when it was over Teddy Atlas bemoaned the death of boxing, which sounded ironic on a night the two participants each took home a check for ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS (and that’s just the down-payment!), but you know what he means, that the true fan has been priced out of even the weigh-ins. The worst part is that all that perceived ducking that Mayweather did these last five years were all for naught, he won handily, his legacy is secure…and while Jim Lampley argued that he waited until he got the absolute most he could, what did he–and the rest of us–lose by never getting a Mayweather-Pacquiao II or III? This was a super event, financially speaking, but it also had the unshakable, dirty feeling of One Last Score. It may well end up being the Fight of the Century, because it’ll be that long before another relevant boxing match comes along.
Come back tomorrow for Big Al Sternberg/Fake Sandy Alderson.