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All jokes aside though, I was happy that Manny seemed cognisant and alright following the fight. The fight was spectacular, as each of there previous three bouts were. Marquez displayed resilience throughout (especially in the fifth round) and skill. As all counterpunchers do, he bided his time and picked his spots. He came away a winner in a fight where he was a heavy underdog. And for all we know he may retire victorious. Manny on the other hand seems to be slipping. With all his outside interests and a political career that awaits him after boxing, he may not have the same hunger he once did. And what about the fight of our generation between himself and Mayweather? Does that fight happen next year if ever? The one certainty is that boxing fans wouldn’t mind a fifth and final bout between Marquez and Pacquiao. Given what has just happened and the respect these two have for each other, it would just seem natural to settle once and for all one of the greatest rivalries in recent boxing history.
Outrageous. Embarrassing. Rigged. Just a few words you have heard over and over again after the split decision victory Timothy Bradley had over Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas this weekend. There has not been this type of clamor over a boxing match since the Holyfield v. Tyson II match in 1997 (and that feedback was over the lunacy of Tyson, not for the skill being displayed during the match). But for a dying sport such as boxing, isn’t this what you are looking for. It’s a negative headline, but a headline nonetheless. It made me, and many others completely forget about the other major sporting event of the weekend (the Miami Heat’s game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics). And the old adage is that “there is no such thing as bad press”. Perhaps this will give those viewers who are on the fence about watching a fight a reason to purchase the PPV. Not necessarily for the skill on display, but for the entertainment value and discussions that would occur over who they feel won.
Yet, there has been little dispute over who many believe should have won. I have yet to hear an analyst or a fan who did not think Pacquiao won, narrowly or by a wide margin. Talk about match fixing has been running rampant. Given the state that boxing is in, if reports were to surface that illicit conduct had occurred, boxing would cease to exist as a credible sport. It would become wrestling, where fighters play up their characters and story lines would unfold like a soap opera. Fans would no longer care or respect what occurs inside the ring, because there would always be that thought of what if. If Manny were to face Floyd Mayweather Jr, and the fight were decided by the judges scores, what if Mayweather pays someone to rule favorably for him? What if one of the judges likes Pacquiao’s religious openness and hates Mayweather’s level of arrogance that he rules in favor of Pacquiao in the close rounds because of it?
There is no bounce back for boxing if a scandal were to be uncovered. No amount of Mayweather and Pacquiao fights would repair it’s image. Basketball continued amidst the Tim Donaghy scandal because it was quickly swept under the rug and occurred during the summer the Boston Celtics assembled “The Big Three”. Hockey survived a year long disappearance because they embraced the changes the fans wanted and opened up the game to more scoring and shootouts. It has provided us with one of the most entertaining postseasons in NHL history as the New Jersey Devils continue to stave off elimination and make the Los Angeles Kings look human. For the sake of boxing’s future, let the next headline be about a fight. Not a fight to be held in a courtroom, but of one to be held in the ring.