The best part of the Fight of the Century was not those inside the ring but those just outside it.
The entitled, self-important, don’t-you-know-who-I am types sitting ringside at Floyd Mayweather’s overdue bout against Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night in Las Vegas was the best part of the fight.
Seeing Oprah and her professional friend, Gayle King, along with Bieber, Beyonce, Barkley, Jay Z, Mike Tyson, Claire Danes, Bobby DeNiro and scores of other hot people confirming their greatness at ringside and at the VIP lounge validated this as the be-seen party of 2015.
As a sidenote, the chance to walk into the MGM Grand Arena with Pharrell over my left shoulder, and sitting in front of Jesse Jackson, Magic Johnson and Sting will be a forever moment of mine. The chance to gawk at Super Amazingly Hot Model Irina Shayk (Google her; it’s worth it) from two feet away will not be something I will forget in this or any other future lifetime. It is my plan that at my funeral it will be repeatedly mentioned that I made eye contact with both Claire Danes and Jon Voight.
The whole thing was so very Vegas, and so very American. The hype of Mayweather v. Pacquiao met the hype. The fight was not a typical Mayweather dog, but it was close. The hype was worth the price of admission. The Fight of the Century featured plenty of highlights, virtually none of them inside the ring.
Floyd Mayweather is Vegas, and the sport and the city need him to retire. He’s seedy, he looks pretty, he talks a big game, he charges outrageous prices and then bores the fight fan to death with his uncanny talents to not take a hit. Mayweather fights have become boring. Boxing needs someone who will mix it up and fight.
The highlights of boxing’s first megafight in more than a decade were the A-listers, and the gags supplied by the fighters themselves — the Burger King character who was part of Mayweather’s entourage entering the ring, as well as comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who was part of Pacquiao’s crew on his entrance.
The city that Hunter S. Thompson chronicled in the immortal Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is not dead, but the town is a shell of that identity. It’s an overpriced ode to American excess built on debt and continually funded by those chasing the quick fix while paying $5 for a Coke, or $6,500 for a bottle of vodka.
Boxing, a sport once romanticized by the likes of Norman Mailer, George Plimpton and so many others, is just as much of a shell. The problems are many, but this sport’s biggest issue is that its best and biggest name is dominantly dull inside the ring. Mayweather would prefer to punt it, or draw a walk.
Mayweather has done the impossible: Become the wealthiest athlete alive without the aid of corporate sponsorship because no company wants to touch a guy with a rap sheet for beating women. And he has somehow made his 48-0 record boring.
He is a brilliant boxer, and an unwilling fighter. His quickness allows him to dodge and jab his way to perfection. Pacquiao was the one fighter with the skills to push and potentially punish Mayweather, and he was unable to, other than a good shot in the fourth round.
Do not believe the lame line Pacquiao’s camp tossed out after that fight that his injured right shoulder affected the outcome. Even if it were true, it would not have mattered. Pacquiao is the best puncher in the game, and he couldn’t catch Mayweather because, as he said, “He wouldn’t stay still.”
Even before Mayweather retires after he improves to 49-0 with his scheduled bout against Bum To Be Determined Later in September, he said he will soon surrender all of his title belts. He has a chance to break Rocky Marciano’s mark of 49-0. Mayweather said it’s time for someone else to fight for those titles.
I could not agree more. Hopefully boxing’s next big name is a non-woman beater who initiates more contact rather than whose forte is to avoid what the sport is built on, punching another man.
Hopefully boxing’s next big-time megafight will feature as many highlights inside the ring as it does outside of it.
Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7697
Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog