Sports Op: Pacquiao - Mayweather: sometimes the villain wins
Rarely in sports, as in life, does the perceived narrative line up with reality. The bad guy is not always the one who wears the black hat, the girl of your dreams turns out to be a snobby brat and rarely does an event live up to its hype.
However, the good versus evil storyline that followed fight fans as they watched Floyd Mayweather defeat Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision to become the unified welterweight champion of the world may have come close.
Mayweather is now without a doubt, the best boxer of his generation, but he clearly embraces the role of villain.
He is known to use stacks of $100 bills as stand ins for cell phones, his attitude is obnoxious and even his actions are malicious enough to have created calls for a boycott of the fight.
On the other side of the ledger is Manny Pacquiao, a good natured, outwardly humble man who serves as a representative in the Philippine House of Representatives. Never mind, for this week, that he only showed up in the House of Representatives for four days, voted against birth control expansion and is considered a “trapo” by Filipino political analysts.
Pacquiao avoided the tradition of an arrival ceremony at the MGM Grand during fight week in order to focus on the battle that was ahead of him.
Mayweather had the press credentials of USA Today reporter Martin Rodgers, ESPN personality Michelle Beadle and CNN reporter Rachel Nichols revoked for asking too many questions about the domestic violence charges that shadow his past.
Even inside of the ring, the two are polar opposites.
Pacquiao is a high volume puncher that leaves his opponents requiring a doctor’s care, win or lose.
The words commonly associated with Mayweather’s style are, “fundamental,” “boring” and, especially after his win Saturday, “causing the death of boxing.”
And sometimes, the villain wins.
Through the first four rounds of the fight, it appeared that Pacquiao had the game plan to force Mayweather to fight.
Pac-Man got past Money’s shoulder roll by working the body and prevented Mayweather using the ropes to aid his defense by keeping him in the corner. Manny threw flurries of punches, though few of them seemed to connect with any weight behind them.
Finally, the hardcore boxing fans that suffered through 12 rounds of defense from Mayweather against Canelo Alvarez and twice against Marcos Maidana had thought they found someone to force Floyd to throw a punch.
And then for some reason Pacquiao stopped.
Mayweather was able to slip back into the defensive shell that brought him to 47-0.
Manny throws a jab, Money dances two steps back.
Pac-Man seems to have Floyd against the ropes, Mayweather rolls off them to establish his angle then lands a decent counter.
Pacquiao taps Mayweather and then there is a clinch.
Pacquiao never took the fight to Mayweather after eating counter jabs when trying to walk in.
Anyone who watched the fight with an iota of boxing knowledge recognized that Mayweather put on a historic show of tactical defense down the home stretch.
But it was without a doubt, boring.
And sometimes the villain wins.
Now the echoes of a letdown ring loudly throughout the boxing world. They were first cast when the jeers rained down upon Mayweather during his interview with Max Kellerman, exasperated when those for whom this was the first super fight in their lifetimes proclaimed it to be their last.
But Mayweather has checked off the only chore left on his to do list. He can retire after the final fight on his Showtime/CBS contract in September without having Pacquiao follow him as the all time “what if?”
He is the only man who can claim outright champion status in his weight class.
Most of all, he convinced you or someone you know to spend $100 on the pay per view to add to the record breaking $74 million live gate.
And sometimes the villain wins.