Once Again, Boxing Looks Like A Joke Of A Sport As Floyd Mayweather Vs. Manny Pacquiao Falls Apart

Here we are again.

Despite what Manny Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum said this morning about Floyd Mayweather not agreeing to a fight in November, the second time Pacquiao and Mayweather couldn’t agree to a welterweight megafight in 2010, it is too soon to start pointing fingers at either camp. We have one side of the story and one side of the story only. With that side of the story, one can say that Pacquiao agreeing to the terms Mayweather set the first time the fight fell apart — blood testing for drugs up to 14 days before the bout — is exceptionally reasonable. But for all we know Mayweather had a reason for not meeting the deadline outside of those terms, like, say, the unresolved defamation lawsuit Pacquiao filed against Mayweather’s side for alleging he was on steroids. Since Mayweather’s side refuses even to acknowledge that negotiations were taking place, we have no way of knowing whether Arum is telling us the truth, and you’d have to be pretty naive to assume Arum is telling the truth based on his record.

What we can do is condemn a sport where the two best boxers of the past decade can’t find a way to fight one another. Twice. Whatever the reasons for the fight not being made, this was a demarcation line — Pacquiao is moving on, according to Arum, to fight someone else in November.

Over the last year or so, boxing had rightly returned to the headlines. But this is all boxing makes headlines for in 2010: The biggest fight in decades not happening — the ultimate example of the best not fighting the best. It’s the old story about why boxing fell sharply from public favor, only to buck the trend in recent years. But it’s becoming the new story.

It’s a joke — the unfunny kind. This sort of thing doesn’t happen in any other sport I can think of. It doesn’t matter what sport it is. If you’re the Lakers and you’re the best team in the West, at the end of the year you play the Celtics if they’re the best team in the East. In table tennis, the two best players meet in the championship game.

You can be optimistic about this if you want. Maybe Mayweather signs a deal before Pacquiao agrees to terms with another November opponent. As Arum says, “There’s always next year.” But if Mayweather didn’t agree to the fight by now, it’s hard to imagine why he would suddenly do it next week. And there isn’t always next year. Pacquiao is a congressman in the Philippines who has threatened to retire from boxing repeatedly, and Mayweather threatens to retire every other week. If they couldn’t get it done twice before, why would they suddenly get it done on the third try?

Already, all anyone who doesn’t follow the sport regularly has asked me about boxing recently is, “Why aren’t they fighting?” I can only guess the real answer. But that I even get the question speaks disgusting volumes about the kind of gross neglect of its fans boxing is capable of committing.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.