Saturday will mark one of the greatest fights in boxing history. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (47-0) and Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2) will step into the ring for a long-anticipated welterweight bout. This superfight was originally negotiated back in 2009, and after six years of back-and-forth discussions, the fight will finally take place. Mayweather, who is currently ranked the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, will face his toughest opponent yet in Manny Pacquiao. Although Mayweather is rewriting boxing history with his undefeated record, a Pacquiao win would have more of a positive effect on the sport of boxing.
Over the last 20 years, the sport of boxing has significantly declined in following and participation. A key contributor to this decline is the brutality of the sport, which left many boxing greats with permanent brain damage. Muhammad Ali, regarded by many as the greatest of all time, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease shortly after finishing his boxing career. Due to many fighters sustaining head trauma and other related injuries from boxing, many prospective boxers have turned to team sports that are not reliant on repeated physical contact. The sport of boxing has lost many world-class athletes because of this transition. Now boxing only has two household names and they are squaring off on Saturday night.
Despite his flawless record and entertainment value, Mayweather exemplifies the other problem with boxing which has led to its decline — money. Nicknamed Floyd “Money” Mayweather, the 38-year-old boxer has a net worth of $280 million and will receive 60 percent of a projected $400 million gross revenue from Saturday’s fight. But it is no surprise that Mayweather has this money, as he can be seen flaunting it in pictures on his Instagram account.
Unlike every other sport which utilizes a commissioner or president to oversee operations, boxing is run by promoters who only keep money and their own best interest in mind. Since fights are scheduled based off what will bring in the most money, the competitive nature of the sport is beginning to fade away. Many boxing legends have noticed this, as they have said that Mayweather’s perfect record is in large part due to the lack of competition he faces. Mayweather thinks otherwise, as he has stated he is better than some of the greatest boxers in the history of the sport.
While Mayweather is without a doubt a great fighter and entertainer, he is taking away from the history and competition of a sport that is held dear by many. If Mayweather continues to win, the sport of boxing will devolve into nothing more than a cash cow. Pacquiao must win to protect the integrity of the sport and make boxing relevant once again.
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Collegian Sports Reporter Alec Grimes can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @GrimesAlec.