New era beckons as legends fade

Manny Pacquiao may have resurrected his career with the convincing points verdict over Timothy Bradley last week, but the fight everyone still wants to see remains an extremely remote prospect.

Against Bradley, Pacquiao proved his knockout loss to arch-rival Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012 was not the end of his glittering career, but the mega-fight with Floyd “Money” Mayweather is no nearer to being sealed.

Entrenched rivalries between promotion companies and television networks is at the root of the problem, which appears insurmountable.

Boxing’s dramatic loss of popularity in the past decade is partly because the best rarely meet each other when the public and the rest of the sport’s fraternity would love to see matches made. This is a classic example.

Pacquiao is with Top Rank and Mayweather is attached to Golden Boy and both refuse to match their fighters with the other side.

The fact that Mayweather recently abandoned HBO after 14 years in favor of Showtime Networks, and Pacquiao boxes only under the HBO banner, emphasizes how polarized each camp is. Mayweather also enjoys taunting the Pacman, which does not augur well for a match to be made.

Even if the contest does happen, both are clearly way past their best and purists are unlikely to be satisfied. Mayweather is a veteran at 37 and just playing out his career, determined to keep a perfect record. Still undefeated after 45 bouts, he is not as speedy as before and his legendary defensive work not as impenetrable. He has never been a spectacular fighter either, preferring to guard that cherished record with neat defensive work rather than take risks by going for a knockout.

Mayweather seems to have no regard for entertaining the crowd and the viewing audience either. Securing a win is everything to him, all else is secondary.

Pacquiao has built up a worldwide following with his electric speed and inside-distance wins against the likes of Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton as he won titles in eight weight divisions.

The 35-year-old Filipino idol showed flashes of those blurring hands and feet against Bradley, but he too has slowed, and the Marquez loss, along with the controversial points defeat to Bradley two years ago, has diminished his marketability and veneer of indestructibility.

Had the two maestros met four years ago when at the peak of their powers, that would have been a fight worth all the hype.

Passions have not diminished since the Pacquiao-Bradley bout. Top Rank’s Chief Executive Officer Bob Arum continually moaned over MGM Grand’s blanket promotion of Mayweather’s fight with Marcos Maidana on May 3, contending that his fighter’s bout with Bradley was being unfairly marginalized.

Golden Boy executives were not happy and, if anything, became more entrenched on not making the deal, even though a match with Pacquiao would still generate the largest revenues in boxing history of more than $200 million.

Even Lennox Lewis is pressing for Pacquiao-Mayweather to happen. Lewis knocked out Mike Tyson in a pay-per-view co-broadcast by HBO and Showtime 12 years ago. It was a partnership many think the networks could replicate for Pacquiao-Mayweather.

The difference here is that Pacquiao is a free agent, whereas Lewis was contractually obligated to fight an albeit seriously faded Tyson. That match too should have happened years earlier when Iron Mike was in his prime.

Golden Boy Promotions head honcho Richard Schaefer referred to Pacquiao-Mayweather happening as a “pipe dream” last week.

In the meantime, there are plenty of potentially exciting matches confirmed, starting with Keith Thurman against Julio Diaz in a WBA interim welterweight title bout this Saturday. Also on the bill is the big hitting Lucas Matthysse against John Molina at super-lightweight.

Wladimir Klitschko defends his four heavyweight titles against Alex Leapai this Saturday too.

On the Mayweather-Maidana bill, Luis Collazo takes on Amir Khan and Adrien Broner faces Carlos Molina. Maidana is a free-swinging brawler so at least he will try to make the bout exciting. All three bouts have the look of highly entertaining affairs.

Bermane Stiverne is matched with Chris Arreola for the vacant WBC heavyweight title on May 10. Neither is a boring fighter so plenty of action is likely.

Mexican hero Juan Manuel Marquez keeps busy hoping for another huge payday against one of the legends. Marquez faces the hard-hitting Mike Alvarado at super-lightweight on May 17. Adonis Stevenson is possibly the hardest hitting fighter at elite level at the moment, and he defends his WBC light-heavy title against Andrzej Fonfara on May 24.

Carl Froch’s ninth round stoppage victory of George Groves in an IBF/WBA super-middleweight title bout last year seemed premature by referee Howard Foster.

The Brits go at it again on May 31 on the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium in London in a rematch that sold all 60,000 tickets made available of the total 80,000 on the first day they went on sale.

Jamaica’s Nicholas “Axe Man” Walters holds a version of the WBA featherweight title and he defends it against Vic Darchinyan on the same day as the Froch-Groves fight.

Nonito Donaire is another Filipino hero who tops the bill with Walters-Darchinyan. Donaire faces Simpiwe Vetyeka for the Super WBA featherweight title, emphasizing the ridiculous state of championship boxing when two bouts feature fighters battling for basically the same titles.

Miguel Cotto looks out of his depth in taking on the incredibly powerful Sergio Martinez for the Argentinian’s WBC middleweight crown on June 7. The Puerto Rican puncher is never intimidated when an underdog and is guaranteed to give a gutsy showing against Martinez, no matter how painful his night’s work.

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