My office, like every other office in America, had been discussing the Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao boxing match for weeks. You couldn’t stop at cubicle or a happy hour without hearing, “Where are we watching the fight? What are you bringing?” This fight brought more people together than The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Not since “Pretty Boy” Floyd “Money” Mayweather fought “Golden Boy” Oscar de la Hoya had the boxing industry received this kind of attention. We’d been throwing ourselves at these men, begging them to have the super fight we all wanted for the past half-a-decade. America yearns for a return of the sweet science. That’s what we got Saturday night. Boxing got the demonstration it needed, but the audience never wanted.
We’ve had a lot of time to look forward to this, and because of the spectacle of all of it, boxing drove millions of casual viewers to pay $100 for it. It brought the “Boxing is Dead” crowd back to pay per view. From the casual sports fan to the die-hard boxing enthusiast, everyone was in your living room.
Because of boxing’s long sabbatical from the national spotlight, a lot of Americans have a romanticized view of boxing. They think boxing is more Rocky vs. Drago and Mike Tyson Punch Out than Floyd Mayweather’s technical domination over nearly two decades. Those who appreciate Mayweather’s boxing prowess were outnumbered on social media and on the couches.
People watched the fight to see one of sports last villains, both in and outside the ring, Floyd Mayweather get knocked out. All we heard about on the Pacquiao side was his punching power, and if he could hit Floyd, which no one had ever done, it would be goodnight Irene. The man who spent two months in jail for domestic abuse, and spends his free time flashing cash would finally get his comeuppance.
Boxing fans knew well before the fight that Manny Pacquiao had spent more time being put to sleep than being the one putting people to sleep in recent fights. In the past few years Manny had spent more time on his back staring up at the lights than [insert porn star here]. In Floyd’s recent fights he’s aged better, and more richly, than a fine wine from the rolling hills of France. He’s 47-0. He’s Mr. bob-and-weave. He is the best technical boxer on the damn planet. A Tim Duncan like reign of dominance that only the purest of fans can appreciate.
This leads to groans as Floyd expertly wraps up Manny over and over again any time he may be in danger. As Floyd, in his technical dominance, jabs you into submission in the brief moment you put your guard down. The only part of the night that is particularly memorable is Floyd saying, “Nope” following multiple barrages of Pacquiao punches that fail to hit their mark.
Boxing isn’t knockouts and haymakers. Boxing is poetry in motion. The sweet science. That’s what you purchased last night. That’s what you were treated too. “The Best Ever” isn’t just a hashtag from The Money Team, it’s not just branding, he’s the real thing.
Stop complaining about what you bought last night. What you witnessed. It’s only happened 48 times, and we’ll only get it one more time. Boxing is going to miss Floyd Mayweather even if you won’t.
Correction: A previous version of this post referred to the video game Mike Tyson Punch Out as Mike Tyson Knockout. In fairness, I was born 2.5 years after the game came out.