Not too long ago, two boxers stood atop the sport, equal kings of a divided kingdom. In one corner was a brash, undefeated American, who bragged about his money as much as his skill. In the other, an explosive Filipino dynamo who gave his country hope. There could only be one ruler, the public cried, and the two needed to meet in the ring to settle things once and for all.
Each fighter's camp had their reasons for why their guy would win. Floyd Mayweather is too slick and skilled, some said. Others argued that Manny Pacquiao's southpaw style and knockout power would win the day. Even years of false starts and contract disputes only served to grow the hype.
And then the fight actually happened. By then, both fighters were past their best, but the spectacle
Now, three years after Pacquiao and Mayweather managed to put Las freakin' Vegas to sleep, the old pugs are back at it once again. The recent news came about because of an Instagram video posted by Mayweather. The two met "by chance" at a music festival in Japan (the same coincidence happened at a basketball game before the first fight, remember?) as Mayweather began clamoring for a rematch. I'll beat you like last time, said the 41-year-old American. I have the belt, said the Filipino, age 39. Yawn.
If you haven't seen it, their chance encounter was as contrived as it sounds (Pacquiao attends tugs-tugs festivals? Really?) But the timing couldn't have been better. The video was released on the eve of the hotly anticipated rematch between Gennady Golovkin and Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the new must-fight pair and boxing's current pay-per-view draws. The gamble worked, as Sunday morning's boxing headlines were divided between the rematch everybody was prepared to see, and the possible rematch that nobody asked for.
It's sad, really. Pacquiao and Mayweather are still all-time greats, but they're diminishing their legacies with this farce. By now, both men should be happily retired counting their millions. Instead, they're scraping for relevance in a world that has already moved on from their brilliance. Since they first fought, each man has retired only to take it back soon after.
Mayweather's novelty fight against Conor McGregor drew the public in, but it did nothing for his image. Pacquiao's fights, meanwhile, are no longer the nation-stopping spectacles that they used to be. If the first fight had been exciting, then maybe there'd be more clamor for a rematch between the aging lions. But the fact that it turned many viewers off of boxing means that the demand just isn't there. At best, it's an attempt at recreating the magic of their rivalry. At worst, they're attempting to recreate the dollar figures from the first fight.
So please, Pacquiao and Mayweather, don't do it. If not for your sakes, then for ours. This isn't how we want to see either of you go.