No sense in ducking Pacquiao-Mayweather

ARLINGTON, Texas – The three ringside judges handed 34 of a possible 36 rounds Saturday to Manny Pacquiao, a unanimous, near shutout defense of his welterweight title over Joshua Clottey. The lopsided result didn’t seem to faze Clottey, though. Post-fight he stood carefree in the ring, smiling for pictures and waving to ringside fans.

Clottey didn’t come to fight. He came to cash his check and go home, spending 12 rounds covering up as Pacquiao wailed on him.

Boxing put on a heck of a show Saturday, with almost 51,000 fans making Cowboys Stadium an electric environment.

It just didn’t stage much of a fight.

“There was no way Clottey was going to beat this guy, even if he took off his gloves and fought him bare-fisted,” Bob Arum, the fight’s promoter, acknowledged.

So when are we going to get a real Pacquiao challenge? When are we going to see someone who can beat him?

Namely, when is the Floyd Mayweather fight finally going to happen?

“I want that fight but it’s up to him,” Pacquiao said. “I’m ready to fight anytime. Floyd’s style isn’t difficult.”

We’ve heard all of this before, of course. March 13 was supposed to be the night Pacquiao and Mayweather met in their long-awaited clash. The two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world were ready to stage what was expected to be the richest fight of all time.

“It’s the fight the world wants to see,” said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer.

Instead the world got to see a fight so one-sided it was essentially a Pacquiao sparring session. If you dropped $50 on this one, you were probably screaming at the bigger, stronger Clottey to, you know, throw a punch.

“Manny fought a good fight,” Roach said, as frustrated as anyone. “He pitched a shutout against a middleweight. But that middleweight should’ve used his [expletive] power.”

It’s long past time for boxing to get out of its own way and give its customers what they deserve – the generational matchup of Pacquiao vs. Mayweather.

The fight fell apart in the final days of negotiations when the Mayweather camp demanded Olympic-style drug testing rather than more lax boxing commission standards. They point to suspicions that Pacquiao is taking performance-enhancing drugs, charges that have never been backed with any proof.

Pacquiao prefers the current testing standards.

That’s the stumbling block and the only stumbling block.

It can, and should, be cleared, if only each side would realize they carry some measure of fault here. Of course, good luck with that. The Pacquiao camp sounded even more entrenched on the merits of Olympic drug testing.

“You don’t negotiate,” Arum said, bringing up World War II history. “Neville Chamberlain negotiated with Hitler in Munich and look what happened.”

You mean the Czech Republic is going to fall if Manny Pacquiao has to have blood drawn 48 hours before a fight?

Look, Mayweather shouldn’t get to set all the rules, but neither should Pacquiao. Asking for stronger testing against PEDs is hardly an unfair request. Of course, the way Mayweather went about demanding it lacked tact. Neither side is fully in the right or the wrong.

There’s a lot of middle ground waiting to be crossed here.

Arum should’ve been vowing to do everything he could to make the Mayweather fight happen. He had just sold the public on a fight that wasn’t remotely competitive. And while that falls mostly on Clottey’s shoulders, the guy who shelled out his money doesn’t care.

The truth was Clottey wasn’t in Pacquiao’s league. “If he played offense he would’ve been knocked out,” Arum acknowledged. If it weren’t for Pacquiao’s relentless effort, even when he was way up on the scorecards and had nothing to gain, this would’ve been a complete disaster.

Mayweather is set to fight Shane Mosley on May 1 in Las Vegas, and if he gets through that, there is no question he’s the only one out there the public believes can challenge Pacman.

“There are other fights, [but] is the world really interested in them?” Roach said.

Roach believes that if Mayweather defeats Mosley, the fight will get made, probably for next November. He believes Mayweather invented the drug controversy so he had longer to shake the rust off his nearly two-year retirement.

“He needed more time,” Roach said. “One fight back and you’re returning against [Pacquiao]? He found out Manny doesn’t like blood drawn and [made it an issue].

“If he beats a guy like Shane, then he’s back.”

Arum said Pacquiao will sign the standard fight contract and leave the decision on how to test for PEDs up to whatever state officials are in charge.

“Let the commission set whatever kind of drug testing. If it has to be amplified, then that’s up to them. The only way a fight can be is if Mayweather wants to fight and signs a contract like [everyone] else signs a contract.”

Time will tell if Mayweather is willing to bend. If he is, then so should Arum. Mayweather may be playing head games with Pacquiao, but it’s inconsequential in the grand scheme of the sport.

Boxing is standing in front of a rare opportunity to seize the popularity of two magical talents. These are the kinds of fighters that can fill football stadiums and set pay-per-view records.

Handled properly, there’s a golden run waiting – a super bout, a rematch, a trilogy. Who knows? Left to petty politics and overvalued egos, you get Saturday in Texas – a sport amped up for a big fight that turned out to feature only one fighter.

Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October. Follow him on Twitter. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Sunday, Mar 14, 2010