04 May 2015

If Pacquiao is Arsenal, Mayweather is Chelsea. In other words, a boring, boring match.

So it seems that one of the most-anticipated boxing matches in recent memory was, essentially, a draw. There was no knockout. There wasn't even a knock-down. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao went toe-to-toe in one of the most-hyped events in boxing history (which is saying something), and the result was about as boring as the process that produced that result—twelve tepid rounds that came down to the judges' decision, ending in a barren, boring coronation that can't quite resist a comparison to the Chelsea-Arsenal rivalry of recent years. I can't remember feeling as indifferent to a result as I am to this one. With Mayweather, as with Chelsea, the ends justify the means...

With the two, the means are much the same: defend, defend, defend. We all know all too well that Chelsea under Mourinho park that bus and dare opponents to find a goal; "not losing" is Mourinho's mantra, much as it is Mayweather's. Throughout the twelve rounds, Mayweather did his best to avoid engaging Pacquiao, using his superior height and mobility to jab and parry Pacquiao's more-aggressive style, scoring points without doing much damage while Pacquiao attacked aggressively if not creatively only for the American to emerge victorious on a unanimous decision from the judges.

So he won. I suppose congratulations are in order. However, just like with Chelsea, it's hard to conjure up any admiration or respect for an opponent who battens down the hatches and simply outlasts you. Yes, discretion is the better part of valour, but if I'm plunking down my hard-earned cash, I want some drama, some intrigue, some excitement. This bout, as with so many Chelsea matches, offered none of that—unless it was in those precious-few moments when Pacquiao landed a few punches, inspiring his supporters to dare to believe than an improbable upset was in the making.

Alas, as with with all too many Chelsea-Arsenal clashes, it was too little, too late, and the shrewder side snatched the spoils. Chelsea have won the Prem; Mayweather has won the welterweight title. Even if you supported Mayweather, even if you support Chelsea, you have to admit at some level that the process is a bit boring, and this undermines the result. There's no real drama, suspense, or doubt to it, is there? Where there's no doubt, is there really any belief? I don't know. I've spent so much time doubting that I don't know what to believe anymore. Those who gravitate towards the Chelsea-Mayweather axis might be better-positioned to explain than I am.

For those of you still wondering which pole to gravitate towards, consider this: Mayweather's contract called for him to receive 60% of the $300 million purse, win or lose. When asked to confirm that he received a $100 million check after the fight (with final paydays to be tallied after revenues are confirmed), Mayweather pulled a check from his pocket and declared, "the check got [sic] nine figures on it, baby!"

In other words, it's all about the money. The memories matter less than the medals. The moment finishes, the final or the game that gives you the [title], and you have like a flash of the people you love most, the people who are with you, a little bit of the most-important moments that lead to that trophy. It's like a quick flash..five minutes later, [you] move on.

That would be Mourinho speaking, by the way. Apparently, when price is no object. each piece of silverware matters less and less. The significance of each achievement is diminished by its dreadfully dull process. I'm not for a minute suggesting that a club and its supporters suffer a decade between each achievement; I'd love nothing more than for Arsenal to win time and time again—however, I never want to enter the realm of banal bravado, in which each conclusion is foregone.

Somewhere between the poles of playing well but losing and playing poorly but winning, there lies a happy medium, an admission that how you win matters almost as much as whether you win. I'm proud to support a club that struggles to strike the right balance.

Manny, we hardly knew ye, but thanks for fighting as you did.

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