A lot of things changed Saturday night after Manny Pacquiao defeated Juan Manuel Marquez via a very controversial decision.
Suddenly, the once beloved Pacquiao became a figure of scorn for just about everyone who watched the match. Both casual and hardcore fans didn’t hesitate to pile on. Years upon years of hard work that went into establishing the Filipino champion as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and one of the all-time greats just poof – disappeared into thin air.
Conversely, Marquez got a hero’s welcome. Despite the fact that the entire boxing community had already boxed him up and buried him heading into the November 12 showdown, his never-say-die attitude and picture-perfect counterpunching strategy won him the hearts and minds of all of the world’s children. Everyone who said he was done, suddenly, jumped back on the “He’s still got it!” bandwagon.
What has gone relatively unspoken of over the last 48 hours, though, is how what transpired this past Saturday will impact the No. 2 pound-for-pounder who many are now suggesting is the No. 1 pound-for-pounder, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Leading up to the Pacquiao vs. Marquez fight, depending on who you listened to, there was one of two things holding up a potential mega fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather. If you were a Pacquiao fan, that thing was Mayweather being scared of the Filipino champion. If you were a Mayweather fan, that thing was Manny refusing to play ball in negotiations with Floyd.
Well, both of those problems appear to be over and done with now. If Mayweather was scared of Pacquiao before, he shouldn’t be anymore. Marquez, with his somewhat unique counterpunching style, does exactly what Mayweather does in his fights, only not as well. If Marquez gave Pacquiao that much trouble, Mayweather will surely do the same. And, along the same lines, if Pacquiao didn’t want to deal with Mayweather’s nonsense before because he felt like he didn’t need to fight him for the sake of his legacy, he knows better now.
So the stars have aligned and a fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather is now imminent, right?
On Monday, Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum expressed a desire for Pacquiao to face off against Marquez again in May. Mayweather, effectively, was being placed on the backburner if you believe the man who coined the phrase “Yesterday I was lying, today I am telling the truth.”
"That fight [against Mayweather] can still be there for us" a year from now," Arum told the Los Angeles Times.
So that’s hurdle No. 1 – Arum’s seeming reluctuance to put the bout together.
Hurdle No. 2 in putting Pacquiao vs. Mayweather together will be Mayweather’s big mouth. No matter how much we want the outside chatter not to matter, Arum and Pacquiao are both clearly very sensitive. The slightest bit of trash talk throws them into a tizzy, as we’ve witnessed at various points over the last two years.
Just two days after Pacquiao’s bout, Mayweather started talking about Pacquiao yet again.
“I didn't watch the fight, but from what I'm hearing Marquez got cheated,” he told FightHype.
At the same time, during that same FightHype interview, Mayweather managed to stumble onto a very salient point. When asked whether he felt like Marquez deserved a fourth shot at Pacquiao, here is what he said:
“Why? I mean, I truly feel Marquez is never going to get the benefit of the doubt.”
As fun as Pacquiao vs. Marquez was, now that the emotions have died down a bit, it feels as though that ship has sailed. Marquez is Pacquiao’s kryptonite, that much is for certain. But how many attempts does he really need to be given to tame the beast? If you’re of the mindset that he got robbed – so be it, you’re certainly not alone. However, maybe it’s time to leave that rivalry in boxing lore where it belongs.
Pacquiao vs. Marquez is the past, Pacquiao vs. Mayweather is the future.
Will it actually happen?
Only time will tell.