LAS VEGAS – Boxing wouldn’t be boxing without fighters talking smack before major events, but Floyd Mayweather took it to the next level in the run-up to the year’s biggest letdown, telling an outright lie and an absolute truth in the same breath.
“I am the past, the present and the future of sports entertainment,” Mayweather said. “Once I get in the ring, I get great results.”
Mayweather’s points victory over Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night was a masterful display of technical boxing and the work of a brilliant athlete at his peak.
And it was boring as hell.
The result, a near shutout of Mosley, Yahoo! Sports’ No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter coming into the bout, was indeed laced with greatness. The “entertainment,” though, was pretty non-existent. Outside of boxing purists, the fight generated as much excitement as a late-night infomercial.
By the end of 12 lopsided rounds – except for a brief early flurry when Mosley rocked Mayweather with a pair of fierce shots to the chin and ear – you could almost hear a pin drop as a lifeless crowd got ready to shuffle off into the Vegas night.
Of course there was plenty of predictable hype and hyperbole from Mayweather, plus his promoters Oscar De La Hoya and Richard Schaefer.
“Mayweather is the best boxer on the planet,” De La Hoya said. “I don’t understand how anybody could not appreciate his skills.”
Saturday night’s fight proved that there is only one contest involving Mayweather worth watching right now: the much-debated, politically-contentious and potentially record-breaking blockbuster against Manny Pacquiao that the sport desperately needs. Until that fight can be made, personality clashes, drug-testing arguments and other trivialities aside, there is nothing to be gained from witnessing Mayweather or Pacquiao taking on anyone else.
They are too good, too far ahead of the pack, for any other bout to offer serious interest.
What a letdown the past couple of months have been for boxing fans. First was the collapse of the superfight just when it was on the verge of being finalized, then two dull events involving the two men who should have been squaring off against each other.
No one left the MGM buzzing with excitement. No one seemed to think $1,250 for a ringside seat was a great deal, and those who shelled out up to $65 for the pay-per-view telecast must have felt their cash could have been better invested in a couple more 12-packs.
The biggest winner on this night could have been mixed martial arts, where unless Anderson Silva is in the cage, you pay your money and you get your action.
Mosley failed to make this an enthralling spectacle, going into his shell in the middle rounds and never emerging from it. The Californian looked every one of his 38 years by the end, and landed only 92 punches all night.
Mayweather did more to press the action than he has in the past, throwing right hands and coming close to knocking out Mosley late – yet it wasn’t enough to get fans on the edge of their seats.
“Early on a lot of people were chanting for Mosley,” said Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “There were a lot of people jealous of Mayweather. But by the end they were for Mayweather.”
If allegiance had in fact shifted as strongly as Schaefer suggested, it was done pretty quietly. In comparison to recent fight nights involving Pacquiao at the same venue, when he crushed Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto, the vibe was remarkably subdued.
The PPV numbers, likely to be released later this next week, will be solid and the projected gate of $11 million is expected to be in the top 10 of all time. But how many fringe fans will return for more of this? How many of those who don’t have a deep-rooted love of boxing will muster the will and the cash to see another big fight that is more technical than terrific.