• Steve Bunce

Mayweather-Pacquiao? There are no just deserts in boxing

Steve Bunce December 16, 2014
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In the movie Grudge Match two old hams meet up in the ring when they are both pensioners. I think of this disaster when people tell me that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are going to fight.

It is a great shame that Manny and Floyd have not met, sure it is. However, it would join a glorious heap of fights and rematches that simply vanished after several sightings and near misses. It's a Yeti fight.

Amir Khan has now wandered deep into the frozen landscape looking for a fight against either of the two boxers, and he needs to be careful that he is not overlooked or overpriced.

Buncey's Vaults

Chris Eubank was floored by Carl Thompson © Getty Images
  • Chris Eubank was too brave in some fights. He lost to Carl Thompson on points for the WBO cruiserweight title.
  • It was savage.
  • "It was a fight they will never repeat, a night they will never forget." Eubank "left in an ambulance for a night in the Royal Infirmary to let the swelling on his left cheek subside."
  • Eubank, I wrote, could have been pulled out at any point after the sixth round. "His courage defied belief as he rose for each round with his left eye lost under an ugly welt." It went the full twelve. "It was both wonderful and dreadful; only boxing can take such extremes and produce pleasure for its public."
  • In the main event Naseem Hamed was brilliant, dropping triple world champion Wilfred Vazquez four times before stopping him in the seventh to retain his WBO featherweight title for the tenth time.
  • But, the night belonged to Eubank and Thompson. It will be, I wrote, the "measuring stick for all extreme fights where bravery surpasses the sensible boundaries of suffering."
  • As reported in the Daily Telegraph on April 20, 1998

Khan deserves one of the two, but I'm reminded of a night in Mexico City in February 1993 when Don King, having eaten five pounds of steak, put his jewel-encrusted hand on my shoulder and told me the truth: "Steve, in boxing you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." Bingo, that's it and it has always been that way.

There is a new book out called The Greatest Fights That Never Were by a writer called Matthew Bazell. It's a book based on fact and not a book about fantasy fights. There are chapters on the men that Mike Tyson avoided, the men that Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank missed and the Mayweather-Pacquiao mess.

It is a good book and uncovers a lot of lost fights that disgracefully have just fallen into a great boxing void for a variety of reasons; the book's full title includes this brutal but truthful line: "How greed, corruption and racism stopped boxing's best match ups". It is possible to add "and differences over doping protocol" to Bazell's descriptive list of cock-eyed reasons.

In Round Six, Bazell looks at the disgraceful avoidance of Herol Bomber Graham. Graham was 30, had lost just once in 42 fights when he got his first world title fight. He lost a split to the great Mike McCallum. The chapter is a good read, a reminder of just how cruel boxing could be in the not too distant past.

So in Las Vegas and in Bolton and in a tiny satellite office in Manila the phones will be red-hot right now as a dozen men try and make sense of the mess they are in. Bob Arum, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny's negotiating horde, Khan's secret advisors, a dozen lawyers, Mayweather's hypnotised posse and some nervous television executives will all be trying to cut a fabulous deal.

Khan will need to be patient and sensible, which he was in the ring on Saturday night in what was a refreshing master class against Devon Alexander. There will be more bold offers from Matchroom to fight the current IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook in a British super-fight. There could also be a move to get revenge over Danny Garcia up at welterweight. Garcia will inevitably join the hunt for Manny and Floyd.

It has taken four fights since Khan's crushing and stupid stoppage loss to Garcia in 2012 to get his confidence back and his world-ranking in position. Khan is 28 now and needs to pick the right fight with an eye on both the bank and his legacy. I think Khan will get the call for Floyd and I think that fight will get made.

The Bazell book has a final round, Round 15, and he called it "No Grand Daddy at the MGM Grand". It is about Floyd and Manny and their fight, which is now in the sixth year of negotiations. I'm pretty confident that the author will not have to change the chapter for any extra runs.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
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Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.