Cinco de Mayo, a Day for Celebration


This Saturday four of boxing’s most important athletes will be getting in the ring. The truth is, I love watching all the fighters in Saturday’s co-feature (how often does an event get that label when the headliner is Floyd Mayweather?) and I’d like to see them all do well. That might seem nearly impossible given that the athletes will be getting into a ring to prove physical superiority with their fists, but given fans’ knowledge of these fighters’ styles, condition, history and past competition, maybe we can hope for a little less backpedaling when the results are in and the decisions (or knockouts) made. Of course, no one would be able to resist mild selective memory syndrome if a huge upset were to result in Floyd Mayweather losing his first fight, but almost every other conceivable scenario is logical, and even exciting to anticipate.
Seeing Mayweather rise to a challenge against a great opponent, showing his entire arsenal, would be thrilling. Seeing Alvarez continue his meteoric rise by beating the best opponent he’s ever faced, and reshaping the elite group of the division would also be intriguing. Witnessing Shane Mosley at age 40, achieving a level greatness that takes on mythic proportions in boxing by beating one of the best ever examples of the “young gun” archetype, would be transcendent. Boxing fans, the dreamers they are, even still have the shred of hope that they could see Cotto pose a real threat to pound-for-pound great Floyd Mayweather Jr. However it plays out, the results will likely not be entirely unexpected. So why wait until biases and outrage can cloud our judgment to speculate about the future of these elite fighters?
The answer is clear for at least one of the four. If Mayweather is able to continue his dominance in the division without much resistance fans will be starved for his athleticism and competition by the time he is released from county jail, likely within three months of his incarceration. He will continue carefully selecting his opponents to maximize his profit, legacy and reputation and minimize his physical risk. The careers of elite fighters Mosley and Cotto paralleled each other and even intersected once. While Mosley is older, Cotto may be the same age or his elder when measured by the punishment he’s taken in the same number of years. Personally, I am inclined to believe that Mosley is closer to retirement. He’s been more attacked for his age, more encouraged to quit than Cotto has in recent years, and he is older. Cotto, on the other hand, sustained damage during his first fight with criminal Antonio Margarito that apparently significantly increased his mileage. I would be more than satisfied with Cotto’s legacy and his performance if he were to retire after a loss to Mayweather, but a little disappointed. With Mosley, though, I think I would be disappointed if he didn’t retire after a loss to Alvarez. Greatness like his should be preserved and reminisced about, not stretched and diluted until he has a truly bad night in the ring, as in other tragic ring farewells with greats like Louis and Ali. More current tragic don’t-know-when-to-quits include Roy Jones Jr. and Evander Holyfield. I hope all of them hang up the gloves soon.
The only real question mark is Alvarez. Fans can’t really be too disappointed if he loses a close fight to Shane Mosley. His past competition has been impressive but he’s never been in the ring with a master of Mosley’s caliber. The over-used but less fully understood adage “styles make fights” will be the phrase of the day on Cinco de Mayo. If styles do indeed make this fight, Alvarez will be looking for a recovery bout after being defeated by Mosley’s straight, fast punches. Even though the rankings say otherwise, Mosley is widely regarded as a greater challenge than Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I would be interested to see that fight, win or lose against Mosley, mostly because I think Alvarez would expose Chavez’ weaknesses.
Let’s get it out of the way. No. Mayweather will not sign a contract with Pacquiao before his jail sentence. No. It’s not going to happen as soon as he gets out, either. If Mayweather ever fights Pacquiao, I know what I’ll expect to see and I’ll have to weigh the fighters’ condition at the time to make my prediction. Until that day, the fight doesn’t exist to me. Arum won’t let it exist. If good ol’ gin blossomed Arum dies while Mayweather is incarcerated then I’ll start getting my hopes up. It will definitely be a paltry consolation prize after this Saturday, but I’ll find a way to get excited about Pacquiao-Bradley and all the undercard fights that night will feature. As for this coming holiday of Mexican nationalism, let’s hope all the fighters make their nations proud, and come out safely, to fight another day, in the ring, or elsewhere.

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