(Photo credit- Esther Lin, Showtime)
One judge scored it 118-110 and two others had it 116-112, a unanimous decision for the winner, and still undefeated champion, Floyd "Money" Mayweather.
That announcement established the culmination of the most over-hyped, exceedingly discussed, constantly debated, highest revenue generating and star studded single day event we have probably ever witnessed in sports. Even the Super Bowl, with a two week promotional window, does not generate this much attention.
We were exposed to celebrities, unattainable tickets with exorbitant prices, hate, hypocrisy, hype and finally, boxing. But not before Jimmy Kimmel, a selfie, Justin Bieber and the Burger King made us all scratch our heads as they escorted the two fighters to the ring.
While the outcome was obvious, the post-fight activity was another example of Floyd's career- even when he wins, he can't win.
He is now 48-0 and has one fight remaining on his current contract with Showtime, after which he has told everyone that he will retire.
He has defeated every opponent he has faced, including the one that has always been in his shadow, Manny Pacquiao. Yet now that Pacquiao has been vanquished, the questions and hate have continued.
I've heard comments such as he's not in the top 10 list of the greatest boxers of all time. During yesterday's Warriors vs. Grizzlies game, Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson debated the question of Floyd being in the top 25, and Jackson brought up the point that he is one of the greatest of all time, and that those who hate on him are doing it because of his actions outside of the ring (and rightfully so, he also mentioned). He expressed that if that's the case, then they shouldn't be discussing Floyd's position as one of the greatest BOXERS of all time. And that's a great point.
Is he the GOAT of boxing, or, at the very least, is he one of the GOATs in boxing history?
Not role model.
A boxer. Period.
Say what you want about the fight Saturday night, but the decision was obvious and just. Floyd dominated the fight, plain and simple. Some say he ran, others say he dodged and held whenever Manny got in close.
But those who truly understand the sport recognize that Floyd was a better boxer and the Champ's game plan for defeating Pacquiao was executed properly. For those who don't fully comprehend the sport, or who are casual spectators who only tuned in because of the hype, you should listen to the post-fight comments of Paulie Malignaggi, a man who truly understands the art and technical aspects of boxing. He discussed the idea of boxing being about controlling distance, which is exactly what Floyd did.
He limited the distance of Manny's haymakers and flurry of punches. Outside of the fourth round, where Pacquiao clearly caught Floyd with a hard punch and followed it up with a storm of combinations while holding Mayweather against the ropes, Floyd clearly demonstrated that he was a master of controlling distance. If Manny was forcing him into the corner, he quickly ducked and slipped out of range to bring the action back to the center of the ring.
(Photo credit: Chris Farina, Top Rank)
If Manny came charging in, he neutralized his approach with a stiff cross that clearly stung Pacquiao almost every time. Manny simply couldn't solve Mayweather's strategy.
(Photo credit: Chris Farina, Top Rank)
Floyd once again definitively proved that he is still the best in the game today. His foot speed is ridiculous, his defense is unparalelled and his ability to understand how to box, not fight, his opponent is unrivaled. He was victorious once again and put another notch on his WBO emerald belt.
Yet, just as seemingly after every other victory in his career, the drama, questions and criticisms erupt before he even has an opportunity to enjoy the victory.
Is this is last fight? What would have happened if he fought Manny five years ago? Who will he face in his next fight- Amir Khan or Keith "One Time" Thurman?
He ran all night. He wasn't really fighting. He's not that great.
Sunday morning we woke up to learn that Manny had suffered a right shoulder injury a few weeks ago that he had requested a shot for before the fight, which he was denied as he hadn't reported the injury previously. Then a video was released from PBC showing Amir Khan and Adrien Broner talking about fighting each other, with Roberto Guerrero jumping in and saying he wants both of them.
So even though he won in the ring, it seems like Floyd can't win outside of it. Conspiracy theorists planted seeds that a re-match with Pacquiao was already in the works before the May 2nd event, fueling this theory with the timely news of Pacquiao's injury. While more information on this injury is expected to follow, the fact remains that more attention seems to be given to anti-"Floyd the Boxer" news than the actual accomplishments of Floyd, the undefeated boxing champion.
But maybe that's the price Floyd has to pay to be the smart marketing visionary, businessman and undefeated boxing champion that he is. Without Floyd in the picture, there is no $400 million in revenue and boxing doesn't have the type of hyped-up, celebrity-filled events that he creates.
Without Floyd there is more no dominant force that will cause those that have no interest in the sport to tune in, even if it's to seem him lose. Without Floyd, there is no "bad guy" to root against in the "Devil vs. Angel" polarization model.
The greatest in every sport have always had a contingent of people who have a duality to their "fandom." They wish to see them fail, yet a part of them can't but help but watch them because they're the greatest in their sport. Michael Jordan. Tiger Woods. Tom Brady. LeBron James (especially after "The Decision"). But regardless of those who cheer against them, they are at the top of their games and have the ability to rise above the hate to win at the highest level.
And they carry their respective sports with them on their backs.
Floyd will always be a lightning rod for criticism, praise and debate. His chosen TV personality will always attract negativity. But he appears comfortable in this role, and the money he generates makes his comfort level even more pleasing to him and those on Team Mayweather.
So regardless of how you feel about Floyd, you have to respect the fact that he has never lost and that he's winning in the way that he wants to.
On his own terms and through his own strategy.
For that, he is one of the GOATs of boxing.