Saturday 24 February 2018

It's better late than never for this generation's Super Fight

'Sometimes, two fighters, like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, are simply destined for each other'
'Sometimes, two fighters, like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, are simply destined for each other'

Michael McCarthy

So, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather is finally on. The two biggest stars in boxing have made us wait - too long - for the biggest fight in a generation.

It's not the first time we've had an eternal wait for a "Super Fight". Yesterday Steve Bunce wrote about the disappointment of the heavyweight clashes of Tyson, Holyfield and Lewis, but there are some fights that just have to happen.

Sometimes, two fighters, like Pacquiao and Mayweather, are simply destined for each other.

In 1982, Sugar Ray Leonard invited 'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler to an event where he was expected to extend a challenge for Hagler's world middleweight title. Instead, he announced his retirement.

For the next five years, Hagler beat all comers, most famously knocking out Tommy Hearns in the greatest three-round fight you'll ever see.

Meanwhile, Leonard, a master self-promoter, kept himself in the limelight. He became a TV personality, even commentating on Hagler's fights.

He teased about comebacks, and even made a brief return to the ring in 1984, before promptly retiring again.

He was running scared of Hagler. His reputation was too great to risk against an unstoppable monster like the middleweight champ. At least that was the perception.

Then, in 1987, it happened. "The Super Fight". The wait was over.

After 12 rounds of fascinating fare, as much for the tactics as the boxing, we got one of the most keenly disputed results in boxing history. Sugar Ray won a split decision.

It may not have settled all the questions, but it was a fight that needed to happen. The excruciating, seemingly pointless wait just made it all the more anticipated.

This time doesn't have the same background. Both men have fought in the intervening years, and while still the biggest draw in the game, have perhaps lost a little of their lustre. But it remains a fight we need to see - the two boxers who defined their generation simply had to meet in the ring.

We waited over half a decade in the 1980s. Then it was worth the wait. Let's hope this one is too.

Irish Independent

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