By Ben Abrams
Tonight the sporting world’s attention will turn to the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to watch the “Fight of the Century” between World Boxing Council (W.B.C.) welterweight champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. and World Boxing Organization (W.B.O.) welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao.
The fight has been heavily anticipated, speculated and even debated as one of the greatest fights the boxing world will ever see.
The viewing public has been waiting for this confrontation between the two super welterweights after negotiations for this match brokedown over five years ago over disagreements on drug-testing before the fight.
Going into the fight, it appears that the majority of boxing pundits have picked Mayweather as the favorite to win.
However, many fans and experts do see it possible that Pacquiao’s aggressive offensive attacks can get the best of opponent.
Mayweather’s foot and hand speed, defensive strategy, and wisdom of the sport appear to be difference giving the edge to W.B.C. champ.
One of the burning questions asked about the match is who will a loss do more damage to when his boxing legacy is complete?
While Pacquiao is considered the best and possibly only equal opponent Mayweather will face in his career.
“Pac-Man” does not appear to have as much pressure on his legacy that’s riding on the outcome of this match.
Pacquiao (57-5-2) with 38 knockouts and two losses, which came in his last five matches.
His career has also included a controversial split decision to Timothy Bradley and a knockout from Juan Manuel Marquez.
Many fans, experts, and boxing insiders would not be surprised if Pacquiao lost tonight.
As for Mayweather, his legacy can be tied to his 19-year undefeated record during his professional career (47-0) with 26 knockouts.
“The Money Team” leader’s only loss was as an amateur during the 1996 Olympics to Serafim Todorov in the featherweight division semi-finals.
A loss for Mayweather could be a damaging blow to his legacy with very little chance to recover in the eyes of the public.
There’s no denial of what Mayweather has achieved or that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame after he retires.
However, critics point out that Mayweather’s record may not be as ironclad as it appears on paper.
Mayweather has faced heat from his critics for his methods of selectively choosing opponents he fares better than on paper.
Mayweather fought a near-retirement Oscar de la Hoya, who lost two of his last four fights before the loss to Mayweather.
Shane Mosley was almost 39 when he fought Mayweather, and besides a close call in round two, Mayweather prevailed.
There’s also the argument for the fighters that Mayweather also never fought.
In 2006 Dan Rafael of ESPN reported that Mayweather turned down boxing promoter, Bob Arum’s offer to fight Antonio Margarito for $8 million.
Arum was quoted in the article saying, “I made him a tremendous offer. I think Margarito is the riskiest fight for him of anyone out there.”
Paul Williams is another fighter that critics would point to Mayweather never wanting to fight. Williams was (41-2) with 27 knockouts in his professional career.
Many thought it would be the next best matchup for Mayweather to have next to Pacquiao. The fight never happened.
The perception of the W.B.C. champ carefully selecting opponents, turning down fights with boxers that would be considered his toughest opponents and the long delay in tonight’s fight with Pacquiao has caused fans and journalists around the sports world to question the legitimacy of Mayweather’s legacy even with his perfect record.
This is why a loss for Mayweather may be more damaging than it would be to Pacquiao.
Many can point to this fight and say that “Pac-Man” is “Money” Mayweather’s only quality opponent that was considered.
A win for Pacquiao can give critics the ammunition to point to Mayweather’s 47 wins before this fight and discredit them as a career full of fighters that were too old, too small or not in the same league.
That same victory can also open the door to a possible rematch where Mayweather will seek redemption in hopes to restore his legacy.
The irony about this “once in a lifetime” kind of fight is that Mayweather appears to have more to lose than he does to gain.
A win tonight will give Mayweather a signature career win over the man that everyone wanted to see him beat.
A loss will create a devastating blow to his legacy and will allow critics to always question the credibility of the dominance that defined his career.