It’s been a couple of days since Saul “Canelo” Alvarez won a unanimous decision over Daniel Jacobs in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile arena to unify the WBA, IBF and WBC middleweight titles. The fight, although it initially intrigued many, failed to really captivate audiences after it resulted in a technical display from both.
Perhaps expectations were too high. Nevertheless, a fair few have criticised the bout for not producing the fireworks that it should have, especially given how much of a high profile contest it was. The two fighters almost clashed at the weigh-in which got pulses racing of those that were predicting a great fight. But Jacobs and Alvarez were seemingly more interested in showing how great they are in other ways. Ways of a little more reserved nature.
Recent highly publicized fights such as Broner v Pacquiao, Khan v Crawford, Eubank v DeGale and Spence v Garcia all seemingly contained all of the right ingredients to make for memorable encounters. Instead, they never turned out the way they should have promised. There are different kinds of fans, and there are those that appreciate clinical fighting demonstrations. And that is fine. But even those types of matches in our modern era often have lacked the drama that past technicians such as Pernell Whitaker have given to boxing.
And you have to wonder whether the “Mayweather effect” has left more of a negative impression on the sport than people have wondered. And is it becoming a problem that needs to be rectified?
Floyd was well known for his safety first, defensive fighting approach. It is why he always required the “Money” image, baiting fans into buying his fights in the hope that they would see him lose. Because he had little else of appeal to offer in terms of tempting to get people to buy his fights and watch him perform. After Adrien Broner tried the same thing but allowed “the game” to play on longer than it should have after he fought Paulie Malignaggi, Mayweather criticised him by saying “You have to know when to turn it off.”
No boxer can be blamed for trying to make money. And Floyd’s marketing scheme isn’t really the point here. It is the long lasting effect on boxers today promising us something special but not delivering. It happens from time to time. That’s just the nature of the sport. But what it’s really capable of only evidently shows itself every once in a while at the very top level.
Given the recent pattern of high-profile fights, which have actually existed for far longer than what has happened just this year, disappointing time and time again makes me wonder whether boxers involved in fights at that level are content with just doing enough instead of giving all they have and leaving a more organic impact on audiences to watch their next match.
Is it hurting boxing?
Well, not exactly.
There will probably always be a way to market a particular match at the very highest level. But it’s the value that fans expect to get for parting with their hard earned cash. Just doing enough isn’t really acceptable, is it? Think back to the days when the likes of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier produced one of the most memorable trilogies in heavyweight history. Fights like that were broadcast on Closed Circuit Television, which was a form of Pay Per View during the 1970s, but the public always felt like they got what they imagined and expected.
Now, not so much.
Will we see a change to this any time soon? Probably not because Floyd Mayweather has shown how to get huge pay days for doing “just enough.” And that is an influence that will be hard to unfollow.