The wait is nearly over. | Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
From the outside looking in, he’s hard to like. There have been so many incidents, so many pieces left behind that once gathered, cobbled together and held up as a whole, it’s hard to embrace all of Floyd Mayweather.
His outside persona shadows him inside the ring, where he’s been brilliant. There’s no questioning his stature in this era of boxing -- he’s simply this generation’s best fighter. He’s a future, unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer. He’s a borderline all-time great, though in Floyd’s mind, he’s “TBE,” the best ever.
The sometimes-churlish Mayweather is boxing. As he enters the twilight of his career, he’s undefeated and far more gregarious at this stage of his life than he’s ever been.
His past, however, stalks him. It’s difficult to erase. Is it fair? No. It does remain a stain that is hard to remove.
So as the seconds tick toward the fight everyone wants to see, the “Fight to end all fights” against Manny Pacquiao, it’s why the boxing world wouldn’t mind seeing the impossible happen and that’s for Pacquiao to beat Mayweather’s ass at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on pay-per-view.
Will it happen?
What will most likely take place tonight is Mayweather’s full defensive artistry on display. His shoulder roll will no doubt deflect most incoming Pacquiao bombs. He’ll make himself compact. He’ll bounce on his toes. He’ll counter everything the lunging, trying “Pac-Man” throws with a zillion taps that will no doubt cause Pacquiao to swell around the eyes, cause him to press and leave him open to be countered some more. Mayweather will then coast the last two or three rounds to secure a unanimous decision.
It will speak of Mayweather’s undeniable radiance. It will speak of Mayweather’s inhuman ability -- that even at the age of 37, he’s still the best on the world.
And there’s no one even close.
Mayweather’s victory will echo his greatness. Then Mayweather will bray out his own magnificence.
But will that be what those crossover sports fans that had waited, and waited, and waited to see this showdown want to see? Won’t they be left scratching their heads and wondering what the hell just happened?
Face it, the reason why this fight carries such cache is because the public wants to see Mayweather lose. A Pacquiao victory would rid the fight world of “Money.”
Like it or not, there is a good guy-bad guy element to this fight. Like it or not, many in the boxing world, though they may not come right out and admit it, detest Mayweather and his prima donna attitude -- even when it comes to fighters themselves.
Mayweather knows how to turn on the gleam when the red lights of the TV cameras are lit. Behind closed doors, away from the klieg lights and jutting microphones, it’s another story. He sometimes can be surly and temperamental. Prone to childish tantrums and caprices -- a side many in boxing have seen numerous times.
It’s why after close to 20 years they’re tired of his act.
It doesn’t help that some identify Mayweather as an ex-convict, either, released on August 3, 2012, after serving two months of a three-month prison sentence in a misdemeanor domestic battery case for assaulting Josie Harris, who is the mother to three of Floyd’s children.
Considering his domestic history, Mayweather didn’t endear himself last September, when he said in reference to Ray Rice being caught on video knocking down his wife: “I think there’s a lot worse things that go on in other people’s households, also. It’s just not caught on video, if that’s safe to say.”
Muhammad Ali, “The Greatest,” through TMZ, supposedly backed Pacquiao, according to his daughter, Rasheda, who told TMZ, “My Dad is Team Pacquiao all the way. He knows Manny's a great fighter ... but it's more about what he does outside the ring. He's such a charitable person. My Dad stood for things. Mayweather ... I don’t think there’s a comparison.”
Then a week later, a publicist sent out a release stating Ali wished both fighters “well in their upcoming fight.”
But someone who does have a firm stake in what happens tonight has no problems saying what is on his mind and how many boxing people feel.
“They want to see Floyd get his ass kicked,” said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s Hall of Fame trainer. “My guy is the one that can do it. Floyd isn’t what I would say a role model, especially held up against someone like Manny. There is a good guy that people want to see win this fight -- and he’s my guy, Manny Pacquiao. One guy is the good guy. The other guy is the bad guy. There’s no other way around it.”
Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to Sherdog.com's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.
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