Better than nothing

Conrad M. Cariño

Conrad M. Cariño

If you were one of the hardcore boxing fans during the “golden era” of Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns, you would surely feel very sorry for fight fans who never or hardly witnessed that era and are clamoring for the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. to materialize.

That era saw the staging of the best fights in the modern boxing era in the welterweight to middleweight divisions, and to who was the best among them still subject to debate. And the succeeding crop of welterweights to middleweights who reestablished the glitter in those divisions, among them Oscar Dela Hoya and Bernard Hopkins, never came close to generating the same level of excitement and intensity their predecessors generated.

But every era should have its share of super or megafights, and this era deserves the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight. Fans have been clamoring for that fight during the past four to six years, and I believe it should have happened between 2009 and 2012 to make it truly competitive. But after Pacquiao was knocked out on December 2012 by archrival Juan Manuel Marquez, the Filipino boxing superstar was never the same again. Meanwhile, Mayweather no longer has prodigious punching power.

So should Pacquiao-Mayweather take place, despite the two boxers being past their primes? In my opinion, yes! But I feel sorry for fight fans now that they have to settle for what they call a super or megafight that will never equal the thunder and intensity of the big fights generated when Hagler, Hearns, Leonard and Duran clashed.

Case in point—Leonard-Hearns 1, which saw both fighters enter the ring on September 16, 1981 with impressive records or Hearns undefeated and Leonard having only one loss from Duran that was avenged later.

And how can people forget the first showdown between Leonard and the hard-hitting Duran, both then undefeated on June 20, 1980, which Duran won.

Fights fans who keenly watched boxing in the 1980s will also never forget for sure the fight between Hearns and Hagler on April 15, 1985 which produced a fast and furious first round that is adjudged by some quarters as one of the best in boxing history.

Although Hagler and Leonard would eventually meet on April 6, 1987 in a fight that carried much hype, the bout turned out to be nearly a sour note in boxing history because many boxing writers thought that Hagler was no longer in his prime, and the split decision win by Leonard was clouded with controversy.

Whenever Pacquiao-Mayweather comes into my mind, I cannot help compare it to Hagler-Leonard because both fighters from the 1980s met at the time when they were no longer in their prime. Hagler wisely retired after the bout while Leonard compiled two wins, one draw and two losses in his next fight fights. Leonard’s last fight was a stoppage loss to then up-and-coming Hector Camacho on March 1, 1997.

Naturally, I wished Pacquiao-Mayweather happened between 2008 and 2012, but that’s like crying over spilled milk. As to who is to blame for the fight not materializing is something I would not rather discuss. But like some already disgruntled boxing fans who crave for the “good old days” when the best boxers wanted to fight the best boxers with few questions asked, I sometimes feel sorry that fight fans of this era are not getting a real treat.

Honestly, can the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight unfold like Hearns-Leonard 1 or Hagler-Hearns? Am I asking for too much? Heck, I’ve witnessed the best so don’t blame me.

Anyway, let’s pray Pacquiao-Mayweather still pushes through. That’s still better than nothing.


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