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How fans are hurting the likelihood of Pacquiao-Mayweather

Kevin Iole
Yahoo Sports
Manny Pacquiao
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Manny Pacquiao

 

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Timothy Bradley's controversial win over Manny Pacquiao in their first fight drew cries of corruption. (Getty)

There's a melancholy feeling these days any time either Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather Jr. announces a fight.

 

On Saturday, Yahoo Sports broke the news that Pacquiao would meet Timothy Bradley Jr. in the main event of a pay-per-view show on April 12 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.

It should be a time of joy among boxing fans. Pacquiao is one of the sport's biggest stars and most exciting fighters. Pacquiao and Bradley are both among the 10 best fighters in the world.

And yet, it was met as much with a "meh," as it was genuine excitement.

Expect the same reaction when Mayweather announces the opponent for his May 3 fight at the MGM Grand, likely Amir Khan, in the coming days.

They aren't fighting each other, so it's hard to get really thrilled for anything else.

What's odd, though, is the way that the fans of each man have reacted to the fight not being made.

Not only is there no longer any outrage – "how dare these guys string us along and not fight each other? – but the fans have taken an active role in reciting why they should not fight each other.

When the bout was first seriously discussed in late 2009 and early 2010, there was a legitimate disagreement about which was the better fighter and which was the bigger draw.

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Floyd Mayweather visited a gym in Soweto, South Africa, in January. (Getty)

There no longer is any debate or any room for legitimate disagreement. Mayweather is clearly the best fighter in the world and has lapped Pacquiao's drawing power.

That's a given.

That said, Mayweather's stated stance that he dictates all terms is ridiculous if you're serious about making the fight. Yes, Mayweather should get the bigger end financially, and yes, he should be able to get other concessions.

Some of what he's been demanding, however, is ludicrous and borders on tortious interference. It should be none of Mayweather's business who promotes Pacquiao, but Mayweather has repeatedly demanded that Pacquiao ditch long-time promoter Bob Arum in order to consider the fight. Mayweather has gone so far as to discuss Pacquiao's alleged tax problems.

There is little question that Mayweather is in a position of power in these talks, but that is going too far and is unfair.

Yet, his fans back him on those, unwittingly making it harder to get the fight done. If the public doesn't put pressure on the promoters and urge the sides to talk seriously and work toward an agreement, the fight is never going to happen.

By spewing Mayweather's talking points, his fans are simply making it more unlikely that he and Pacquiao will ever meet.

Let's forget the legacy issue because the legacy of both fighters is secure, regardless of whether or not they ever meet. At one point, the fight would have had a significant impact on each of their legacies.

But now, they're both in that odd area of their careers where they're fighting after their primes. These are fights that don't impact the legacy nearly as much.

Mayweather is one of the 50 greatest fighters of all-time and perhaps one of the best 25. He's 37-years old and no matter who he beats now, it's unlikely to change the long-term perception of him.

Pacquiao doesn't rank nearly as highly all-time as Mayweather, but the same is essentially true of him.

This is all about delivering a fight the fans want to see. Both fighters have said publicly they want to give the public what it wants.

Neither acts like it, however. Pacquiao doesn't speak as much publicly between fights as Mayweather does, but consider what he did at the podium following his win over Brandon Rios in Macau, China, on Nov. 23.

When Pacquiao finally arrived at the post-fight news conference, Yahoo Sports asked him the first question, and made it about a potential fight with Mayweather, Pacquiao sighed and gave a less-than-inspired answer.

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Manny Pacquiao lost two fights in a row before beating Brandon Rios in November. (AP)

He didn't make it seem like he was desperate for the fight to happen. He's asked the question a lot, and of course that has to be fatiguing, but that's the price to pay to get this kind of mega-million dollar event finalized.

He showed little passion for the bout. When Arum said the bout would be April 12, it would have been nice had Pacquiao leaned over to the microphone and added, "Unless we get the Mayweather fight, because we're willing to fight on May 3."

By the time Pacquiao defeated Rios, Mayweather had already announced he'd been fighting on May 3 at the MGM Grand Garden. So by announcing Pacquiao would be fighting on April 12, Top Rank all but eliminated the Mayweather fight that day.

There suddenly is a shortage of opponents for both Mayweather and Pacquiao. Mayweather is fighting Khan because there is no better alternative available.

Khan has done nothing to deserve a Mayweather bout. He's 2-2 in his last four and is coming off a less-than-inspiring victory over Julio Diaz.

But he's with Golden Boy, he's in the correct weight class and he's accepted the money he was offered.

Khan has skills, but he hasn't shown the ability to fight at the high level it takes to defeat a Mayweather. He's getting the bout almost by default.

Hopefully, the myriad issues that have to be worked out will be worked out following their next bouts, and Mayweather and Pacquiao will fight in the fall.

Of course, Bradley and Khan – if Khan indeed gets the Mayweather fight – could have something to say about that.

But if Pacquiao defeats Bradley and Mayweather beats Khan or whoever he faces on May 3, the focus on both sides should be entirely on getting a deal done with the other.

Anything else is professional malpractice.

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