EDITOR’S LET­TER

At­ten­tion-seek­ing be­hav­iour

Boxing News - - Contents - On­line Editor John Den­nen @Box­ingnewsjd Fol­low us and keep up to date @Box­ingnewsed Box­ingnew­son­line

IT’S the re­match you didn’t ask for, the re­match you didn’t par­tic­u­larly want, but it’s the re­match you’re prob­a­bly go­ing to get. Just when the at­ten­tion of the box­ing world was about to turn to Las Ve­gas and Canelo Al­varez’s sec­ond fight with Gen­nady Golovkin, Floyd May­weather all the way from Tokyo broad­cast his lat­est mis­sive across so­cial me­dia. He is, ap­par­ently, go­ing to re-emerge from re­tire­ment yet again to fight none other than Manny Pac­quiao.

The tim­ing is un­likely to be co­in­ci­den­tal. May­weather has never seemed one to share the lime­light and “Money” turned the con­ver­sa­tion to­wards him­self once more.

“I’m com­ing back to fight Manny Pac­quiao this year. An­other nine fig­ure pay day on the way,” he de­clared.

De­spite be­ing at­ten­tion seek­ing be­hav­iour, this does ap­pear to be a pretty firm dec­la­ra­tion of in­tent, all the more plau­si­ble as it came at­tached to a video of Pac­quiao and May­weather some­how in the same place, at the same time with the cam­eras rolling. “De­cem­ber,” May­weather cries, “I think I need to make that come­back.”

Pac­quiao, not one of the more renowned trash-talk­ers in box­ing, tweeted, “50-1. No ex­cuses.”

Pre­sum­ably the ‘no ex­cuses’ refers to his own ex­cuse. Soon af­ter his 2015 bout it emerged that Manny had gone into the May­weather fight with a dam­aged shoul­der. That rev­e­la­tion though hardly left the gen­eral pub­lic clam­our­ing for a re­peat. May­weather’s points win over Pac­quiao was so con­clu­sive any dis­pute over who was the finest fighter of their era was set­tled.

To fuel a re­match there needs to be in­trigue, some­thing left un­fin­ished or a ques­tion that needs to be an­swered. We needed to know whether Golovkin could get jus­tice when he fought Canelo a sec­ond time (he couldn’t). When they re­matched at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium in 2014 we needed to know whether Carl Froch could fin­ish the job against Ge­orge Groves (he could). When it comes to May­weather vs Pac­quiao, it’s un­clear what more we need to see.

This is a far cry from 2015. Then the clam­our to see them fight reached a fever­ish pitch. For so long May­weather and Pac­quiao had reigned supreme as the two best fight­ers in the world at any weight. That they were in the same divi­sion at the same time made it in­con­ceiv­able that they’d spent about five years not fight­ing each other. Wait­ing so long for the fight to ac­tu­ally hap­pen was ei­ther a ge­nius mar­ket­ing ploy, for mak­ing the event so mas­sive, or a huge missed op­por­tu­nity, for let­ting the per­fect match up stew past its prime. Or both.

But the excitement at fi­nally see­ing the two fac­ing one an­other in the mo­ments be­fore the open­ing bell is an in­deli­ble mem­ory. The glo­ri­ous mo­ment when Pac­quiao ac­tu­ally landed a punch in the fourth round not quite so much.

But the sport changes quickly. Three years, it turns out, is a long time in box­ing. Their era is over. There are other stars in their prime now. In May 2015, the week af­ter May­weather fought Pac­quiao, An­thony Joshua was knock­ing out Raphael Zum­bano Love in Birm­ing­ham. This week­end he will head­line his fourth con­sec­u­tive sta­dium show in front of 80,000 peo­ple. May­weather used to hold court in Las Ve­gas on the Mex­i­can hol­i­day week­ends, now Canelo Al­varez has taken those dates as his own.

The sport might have moved on. But Floyd May­weather hasn’t. When he burst out of re­tire­ment last year, to in­evitably go 50-0 against Conor Mcgre­gor, a mixed mar­tial arts su­per­star in his first pro­fes­sional box­ing con­test, the busi­ness case for that fight was hard to ig­nore. But it was theatre rather than sport. Mcgre­gor was never go­ing to win, he just had to put on a good show. May­weather and Pac­quiao do re­main fa­mous enough to cre­ate a spec­ta­cle. But ap­pear­ing for one more en­core isn’t go­ing to muster a last great per­for­mance. They seem more like faded stars too re­luc­tant to let the fi­nal cur­tain fall and al­low oth­ers to take the stage.

(Matt Christie will be back next week).

Photo: MARK J. REBILAS/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

LONG GOOD­BYE: May­weather [right] and Pac­quiao are 41 and 39 re­spec­tively, and threat­en­ing an­other ­ght

AC­TION IMAGES/ AN­DREW COULDRIDGE & JOE CAMPOREALE/ USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Cover pho­tog­ra­phy

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