Johnston on boxing: Pacquiao KO hurts sport

December 10, 2012, 9:06 PM

The boxing world was flipped upside down over the weekend and all it took was a perfectly-timed counterpunch by Juan Manuel Marquez, as he knocked Manny Pacquiao out cold with one second remaining in the sixth round of their highly-anticipated fourth fight.

Not only did Marquez nearly decapitate Pacquiao when he put the Filipino superstar to sleep with that vicious right hand, but he also killed the likelihood of ever seeing a Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight.

A potential scrap between Pacquiao and the undefeated Mayweather has been talked about for years and even though it came close on several occasions it never happened — and now it probably never will. If Pacquiao won on Saturday it would have been one step closer to a reality, or at the very least it would still be a realistic option.

Instead fans of the sweet science will sit back, shake their heads and look back at what may have been.

In past negotiations, Mayweather and his team insisted on both fighters undergoing blood tests by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, even though Pacquaio had never tested positive for banned substances. Pacquaio and his camp agreed to the parameters but only if the testing stopped 24 days before the fight to ensure the fighter would have no ill effects whatsoever on fight night from having blood drawn.

Mayweather rejected the 24-day counter-offer and the fight fell through. Pacquiao later agreed to blood tests up until two weeks before a bout, but Mayweather’s camp never ended up signing a contract and eventually went on to say he deserved more money than Pacquiao since he’s a bigger pay-per-view draw.

In September, Pacquiao said, win or lose, he would accept 10 per cent of the total purse less than Mayweather. Instead of a 50/50 split, Pacquiao said Mayweather could receive 55 per cent of a purse and he would settle for 45 per cent.

Both fighters and their promoters would have made tens of millions of dollars, as nearly every hardcore and casual fan of boxing would have tuned in to see the fight.

Now, some might think boxing promoters would naturally start scrambling to put together a Marquez-Mayweather fight, but that likely won’t happen either. The reason being that even though Marquez is as marketable as ever right now, he was thoroughly dominated by Mayweather back in 2009. The chances Mayweather’s camp would accept that matchup again are quite slim.

The Pacquiao-Marquez 4 result was shocking for several reasons. Some considered Pacquiao to be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world and in the first three Pacquiao-Marquez meetings there had never been a stoppage. Add to that the fact Pacquiao had not been knocked out since 1999 and it became one of the most shocking moments in all of sports in 2012.

Millions watched around the world and when Pacquiao hit the canvas face first Twitter lit up, especially from those in the sports world.

Pacquiao’s future is up in the air right now. There’s no reason he needs to keep competing, at least financially, but there’s also no reason for him to retire since he’s still one of the best in the world. Also, there are other endeavors Pacman can stay busy with, namely being a congressman in his native Philippines.

Regardless of what’s next for Pacquiao, he’ll be fine. In the short term, though, his loss hurts boxing.

Some ignorant fans have said over the last few years that boxing is a dying sport. It’s not. Sure, it’s certainly not as popular as it has been in past decades, but there is still an abundance of elite talent and still many excellent fights to make. It’s just unfortunate that more mainstream fans are not more familiar with fighters like Canelo Alvarez, Andre Ward, Sergio Martinez, Nonito Donaire, Timothy Bradley and Austin Trout. Otherwise there would be more mainstream fanfare and Pacquiao getting knocked out wouldn’t be as big a deal as it is.

Still, nothing would have been bigger than a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather showdown. Marquez’s gain was boxing’s loss.

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