When boxing does its show?
By dint of promising the “combat of the century” and regularly disappointing, boxing saw its star fade, but the shock on Saturday in Las Vegas between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather gave it an almost unexpected shine.
Boxing is experiencing a rebirth. I am very happy for our sport, because this fight will be fantastic and respond to the phenomenal expectation it arouses ”, ignites the legendary George Foreman, who himself took part in some“ battles of the century ”, including the most mythical, against Mohamed Ali in Kinshasa in 1974.
In the Nevada desert, in the heart of the world capital of games and casinos, mirages have never failed, but the fight between a Filipino demigod and the highest paid sportsman on the planet does not enter this category.
Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao versus Floyd “Pretty Boy” Mayweather is the fight that boxing has been waiting for years.
Because they are two of the best boxers of their generation, if not in history. Because one, the hero of an entire people, has risen from many defeats and torments and the other, undefeated in 47 fights and outrageously rich, is the embodiment of arrogance. Because they drain millions of dollars.
Even before the first exchange of blows, this fight has already made history with the $ 400 million (369 M EUR)revenue it could generate, a record, thanks to the ticket office and especially to the huge TV rights paid by American television channels at the meeting, HBO and Showtime.
– 16,800 spectators –
Foreman does not hide his preference for Pacquiao whom he sees imposing himself on points in front of the 16,800 spectators of the MGM Grand. But he knows that “noble art” owes a lot to Mayweather, who has proclaimed himself the best boxer in history.
“Ali, Foreman, we had our hour of glory, there is nothing we can do for the future of boxing, Mayweather can do something. If he has to speak a lot, let him do it, “insists the former heavy world champion, winner of 76 of his 81 fights.
It is no coincidence, but a symbol of the evolution of discipline, that this “combat of the century” is pinning the welters and not the heavy ones, the queen category.
“There are no talented + heavy + people in the United States, it’s like they’ve disappeared or been sucked into other sports like basketball, American football or baseball,” said Foreman.
“We lack stars, personalities, locomotives”, adds Frenchman Jean-Claude Bouttier, former European champion of middleweight. “Even Klitschko, who is a great champion, is not charismatic, he is too clean. And then with these guys at 2 m and endless lengthens, it’s less exciting. We need a character like Tyson. “.
– Readability deficit –
We must indeed go back to the years 1990-2000 with the era Mike Tyson to find the electric atmosphere and the excitement that surrounds the shock between Pacquiao and Mayweather. A whole symbol: “Iron Mike”, with almost bestial, unpredictable and tormented power, succeeded the Ukrainian Vladimir Klitschko, doctor of sports sciences and polyglot who has been making his law on heavy goods vehicles since 2006.
“Since Tyson sank to the bottom, boxing has been announced, notes Daniel Roberts, a specialist journalist. But we keep breaking revenue records and boxing continues to be an attraction when it is an anachronistic sport to say the least. “.
In the United States in particular, boxing is carved out of croupiers by new, more spectacular sports, such as MMAs and other free fights taking place in cages.
In comparison, boxing is difficult to understand with its rules, its multitude of competing federations and weight categories.
“We should see more clearly with all these federations, even I no longer know where I am. The public no longer recognizes champions, ”says Bouttier.
“Boxing must find a way to bring young people back to it, both for athletes and for spectators,” said Daniel Roberts.
“She must also end these cartels of promoters who have prevented the best fighting from taking place, including this one until recently,” warns the journalist. A whole program, but neither Pacquiao nor Mayweather should tackle it: at 36 and 38, they are probably fighting over one of the last fights of their careers on Saturday.