On November 5th , Manny Pacquiao dusted off his boxing boots to step back into the ring for the first time since his short-lived retirement earlier this year to focus on a political career. The results were solid, if not scintillating, as he put together a vintage Pacquiao performance in outpointing Jessie Vargas to claim the WBO welterweight title.
It was a performance made all the more important considering a special guest was ringside in the form of Floyd “Money” Mayweather. The man who last beat Pacquiao in the highest grossing fight in boxing history had never watched Pacquiao fight in person, aside from the time they spent in the ring together. Mayweather’s presence immediately ignited talk of a return bout between the two next year.
The problem is that Mayweather is “retired.” But that’s not a problem that another couple hundred million dollars wouldn’t be able to cure, right?
There’s another problem, however. Let social media tell it, nobody wants to see them fight again. After breaking PPV and gate records with their historic encounter, the two proceeded to slow dance the boxing world to death. It was more of a vintage Mayweather performance than it was for Pacquiao as the unbeaten pound for pound king dominated the Filipino en route to a unanimous decision victory. Any hope for fireworks was doused in a matter of minutes as Mayweather imposed his superior defensive tactics and neutralized Hurricane Pacquiao for 36 minutes.
Of course, there was a supposed injury to Pacquiao’s shoulder that prevented him from being the whirlwind of punches that fight fans were accustomed to. But it was a deflating event that people paid way too much to see happen. To call it a letdown would certainly be underplaying it.
Mayweather’s presence ringside was a major story considering that just days before he suggested a ring return was a viable option. And what bigger opponent could there be than Manny Pacquiao?
It’s the fight nobody thinks they want until they have it. And then the sports world will hover around boxing one more time.
There are so many things going against Mayweather-Pacquiao 2. For one, Pacquiao isn’t the typhoon of punches that he once was. The fact remains that Pacquiao’s most potent weight for a knockout was 140 pounds. Since defeating Miguel Cotto by 12th round TKO in 2009, Pacquiao hasn’t stopped an opponent. That’s seven years and 12 fights. It’s a stretch that is concerning because the threat of Pacquiao was in his punching power. Without it, he’s a mere mortal for Doctor Mayweather to surgically pick apart. And at the age of 37, Pacquiao clearly isn’t the same fighter he once was. Whether that be because of his obligations outside of boxing, his lack of hunger or simply because he’s old, it doesn’t help him in a rematch.
Fortunately, there’s this little machine you may have heard called “The Hype Machine” that is able to turn molehills into mountains and fireworks into nuclear bombs. And with the general public knowing so little about the nuances of boxing, all it will take is a few talking heads to create a buzz all over again.
And before you know it, you’ll be looking for a place to watch the fight because you don’t want to be the one who misses a magical moment that may or may not happen. Say what you want, but once that hype machine gets churning, you’ll be swept up in the moment. It’s like the Super Bowl of boxing where people who don’t care one way or another will be interested in being a part of the festivities.
It’s the only sport where people who have absolutely no idea about boxing will try to browbeat you with their opinion. Boxing pundits overwhelmingly selected Mayweather to win because, well, he doesn’t lose. That and the fact that everyone who paid attention realized that Pacquiao wasn’t the same guy who rampaged through multiple weight classes several years ago. But every sports writer had his or her opinion on the fight despite not knowing very much about boxing. It led to heated debates on radio and talk shows. People picked their side and were excited to see if they were right.
Why would this be any different?
Of course, Mayweather won handily. But the fact that there’s this Pacquiao shoulder injury story is still lingering as an excuse that will bring people back for a rematch. Then there’s going to be those who say that Mayweather will be 39 and that could affect his performance because he hasn’t fought since 2015 while Pacquiao has already fought twice in 2016. Not that it really means anything but it’s enough fuel to get the hype machine pumping.
It doesn’t matter that Pacquiao can’t beat Mayweather because all it takes is some convincing to bring the world to its knees for a rematch. Even if the rematch does half of what the first fight did (4.6 million PPV buys, $72 million gate and over $400 million in revenue), it’ll still rank as one of the biggest combat sports events in history. That means they have to convince five out of ten people to watch it again. It likely won’t be that difficult to do because boxing promoters think we’re stupid…and they aren’t all that wrong in their assumptions.
Whether you like it or not, Mayweather-Pacquiao 2 is coming to save boxing. You may not think so now, but you’ll have to try your hardest to get away from it when its starts snowballing your way.
You think you don’t want it, but you will.